It was a busy week in the Missouri Senate. After a few long nights of debate, I am pleased to say several pieces of legislation that will have a positive impact, were advanced. Next week, the Legislature will be on mid-session break, the Senate will reconvene on March 27.
One of the biggest bills this session was the quick passage of House Bill 662. The bill will allow the Department of Agriculture to investigate complaints of illegal use of herbicides, anywhere in the state, by subpoenaing witnesses and allowing access to certain records. Once the governor signs the law, it will also allow the Department of Agriculture to impose a fine of up to $10,000/acre to those who knowingly used an herbicide illegally.
Agriculture is Missouri’s No. 1 industry, contributing more than $88 billion in economic impact to our state. Recently, in certain parts of our state, devastating crop damage was attributed to illegal use of herbicides. Before House Bill 662, the penalty to farmers who used the herbicides in a manner that violates their intended application was minimal.
Some of the worst cases of this illegal use involve farmers using Dicamba herbicide not according to its labeled application instructions and then it blowing over onto other nearby farms and crops, causing severe damage. In order to allow Missourians to continue having successful farming operations it was imperative to pass this piece of legislation.
Once the law is signed, the Department of Agriculture can impose fines on individuals who knowingly apply herbicide illegally. Fines include up to $10,000/acre, and the fine increases if that individual is a chronic violator. If found guilty, the individual can also be held liable for all costs associated with the Department of Agriculture’s testing of fields, investigations and more. The department will also have the authority to deny, suspend, or revoke a license, permit or certification issued under the Missouri Pesticides Use Act.
Because of an emergency clause on the bill, once House Bill 662 is signed by the governor it will go into effect. If you have more questions on HB 662, please contact my office and we would be happy to clarify any concerns you have with this bill.
On Thursday, Senate Bill 222 was passed out of the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. I sponsored this bill based on constituent concerns I received that indicated vehicles were being failed on inspection because of “faulty” LED, or light emitting diodes, safety lights. Currently, Missouri does not have a standard for LED lights, in terms of their functionality. So if even one diode was out, an inspector could require the light to be replaced. This sometimes can cost hundreds of dollars. Senate Bill 222 aims to establish what a functioning LED light is by setting a standard of functioning diodes within the light assembly at 75 percent. For example, if an LED light has 10 diodes inside and two of them went bad, that light would still be considered functional. LED safety lights on vehicles, such as brakes and blinkers, have been proven to be more visible and thus safer. With passage of this bill, vehicle owners with these lights should be more confident in having this equipment, knowing they won’t have high replacement costs simply because one diode went bad in their LED light.
It is an honor to be your State Senator and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at www.senate.mo.gov/riddle.