SPONSOR: Howard (Williams, 159)

COMMITTEE ACTION: Voted "do pass" by the Committee on Environment and Energy by a vote of 16 to 0.

This substitute repeals conflicting statutes on the composition of the Soil and Water Districts Commission and establishes that the commission includes 6 farmer members, with 3 from north and 3 from south of the Missouri River. Four farmer members constitute a quorum. The substitute also adds the Director of the Department of Conservation as an ex-officio commission member. The commission is authorized to provide training programs and other assistance to soil and water conservation districts.

Further, the substitute requires soil and water conservation districts to obtain commission approval to continue to buy or sell farm products used in soil conservation if 3 or more businesses complain about the practice. The commission may grant approval only if the products are reasonably related to soil conservation and not readily available in the area. If the commission grants approval, no complaints about a district will be accepted for one year, and no complaints from the same businesses that initiated the approval procedure will be accepted for 3 years.

The substitute contains an emergency clause.

FISCAL NOTE: No impact on state funds.

PROPONENTS: Supporters say that the bill clarifies conflicting statutes and includes reasonable procedures to prevent districts from competing with private industry.

Testifying for the bill were Senators Howard and Westfall; Missouri Agricultural Industries Council; and Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

OPPONENTS: Those who oppose the bill say that competition problems are best addressed locally, where the distinction between competing and providing a needed service is most clear.

Testifying against the bill was Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Terry Finger, Senior Legislative Analyst