Lawyer explains vagueness of controversial amendment

3 years 4 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, July 31 2014 Jul 31, 2014 Thursday, July 31, 2014 2:25:00 PM CDT July 31, 2014 in News
By: Lee Anne Denyer, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

JEFFERSON CITY - Supports and opponents of the "Right to Farm," Amendment One on Tuesday's ballot, are making strong cases for both outcomes. 

The bill reads, "Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed?"

David Bandre, a civil litigation attorney who remains neutral on the issue, boiled down the amendment as simply as he said he could.

"If a farm has been in a location for a year and has not changed what it does, adjoining landowners will not be able to sue that farm for creating a nuisance."

He cited noise, smell and hours of operations as examples of possible nuisances. When KOMU 8 News asked how a voter could know that from simply reading the bill on the ballot, he said the amendment's general wording leaves lots of room for interpretation.

The confusion and the apparent mixed messages boil down to unspecific language. He said the intent of the amendment is to limit litigation from adjoining landowners, and to let farmers operate without fear of lawsuits. Since the measure is written vaguely, it does not differentiate between a family-owned small farm and large corporations. He used an example of a residential development being built next a farm that's been in a family for generations. Those residents would not be able to sue the farm. They also would not be able to sue a large, brand-new corporate farm under the phrasing of the amendment.

"It's problematic," he said. "Especially when you look at the polls right now."

A legislator proposes a bill with specific language, and while it's changed throughout the House and Senate approval process before it hits the ballot.

"What strikes me is what I think strikes most people that are who are against it that it uniformly applies to all farms," Bandre said. "Whether that's a small, family-owned farm who's been in business for generations or a large corporate organization."

Bandre said while it is common for ballot measures to be vague in nature, this one is particularly general. There are several reasons for its vague wording. First, the ballot measure itself must be cut down to a limited amount of characters to put on the ballot.

"It's sort of like sending a tweet," he said. "You only get the 140 characters you can use."

He said the same process applies to the ballot measures. Bills often fill dozens of pages in their entirely, but have to be condensed down in the ballot summary.

"The ballot language is vague, but it always is," he said. "In my mind, this bill itself is somewhat more vague than most."

He described ballot measure writing as an art. He said he believes it was intentionally written that way. He said a bill is written in a way that would most likely allow it to pass. For questions on why the vagueness of this particular amendment, voters must look to the backers and supporters.

Bandre said he knows of half a dozen other states with "Right to Farm" bills. However, those bills largely apply only to family farms. He said the language in those bills is specific enough to rule out applying it to larger corporations.

"A lot of the money that has gone in support of Amendment 1 is from larger farming originations. They want the protection. They should want the protection. It helps their business."

Whether the amendment will pass or not is up to the voters.

"I think it comes down to whether the proponents and opponents of the bill, how their message gets out there," Bandre said. 

"I know the opponents of the bill are trying hard to make it known that this vagueness, in their mind, helps the corporate farm," he said. "It's just a matter of who they can reach with their limited time and limited budget."

Bandre said the average voter often goes into an election with a firm grasp of one or two of the issues on a ballot, and decides pencil-in-hand for the others.

"I can' t honestly say I'm surprised that there's people who don't understand what the proposed amendment is," he said. "If something goes for something as important as a constitutional amendment it should be well thought out, it should be well understood."

"This could turn out to be a good thing," he said. "Only time will tell."

The full magnitude of the amendment will not present itself until votes are cast and the amendment is implemented or not.

The primary election is Tuesday, August 5.

 

 

Related Stories

More News

Grid
List
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Kevin Roy scored twice and John Gibson made 29 saves as the Anaheim Ducks defeated the... More >>
2 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 10:20:39 PM CST December 14, 2017 in Sports
COLUMBIA - Iron Tiger Tattoo parlor in downtown Columbia mops its floors nearly three times a day. It didn’t use... More >>
2 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 9:56:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in Target 8
CAMDENTON - The Missouri Department of Natural Resources recommended an old manufacturer in Camdenton as a Superfund site. Money... More >>
4 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 8:30:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
VERSAILLES - Prosecutors filed charges against three employees of the Morgan County Jail on Monday, including a nurse accused of... More >>
4 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 7:50:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
FULTON - People who are preparing to travel for the holidays are automatically at risk for robberies, road issues, and... More >>
5 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 7:25:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The search for Missouri's next top education official has started. The State Board of Education... More >>
6 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 6:13:24 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
MOBERLY - Fire and law enforcement officers from three counties received radiological training Thursday at the Moberly Fire Department. ... More >>
6 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 6:09:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Here is the latest on a threat to Moberly Area Community College's Columbia campus: 6:55 p.m. ... More >>
7 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 5:00:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
UPDATE: Suspect Monquail Williams has been taken into custody in Boone County without incident. According to Corporal Andy Boggs... More >>
7 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 4:47:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia has new aid in fighting snowy roads this with the help of its new... More >>
8 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 4:04:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
AUDRAIN COUNTY – One Missouri farmer is righting his wrong following a pig waste leakage into a nearby creek. ... More >>
8 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 3:45:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Authorities are investigating a Wednesday night shooting which injured a 19-year-old Jefferson City resident, police said in... More >>
9 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 3:37:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Callaway County schools donated more than 9,200 toys to Toys for Tots Thursday. "We're excited," coordinator Melissa... More >>
9 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 3:20:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
BELLEFONTAINE NEIGHBORS (AP) - The Latest on the shooting of two St. Louis-area police officers saved by their bulletproof vests... More >>
9 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 3:17:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Thursday marked the five year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. In 2012, Adam Lanza opened fire... More >>
9 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 2:50:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Police now have 75 kits with the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone, which is also known as Narcan.... More >>
10 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 2:39:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The former administrator of the Pettis County Ambulance District has admitted embezzling more than $227,000... More >>
10 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 2:15:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Democratic lawmakers are voicing their concerns after the Missouri Republican party presented a new tax plan for... More >>
10 hours ago Thursday, December 14 2017 Dec 14, 2017 Thursday, December 14, 2017 2:12:00 PM CST December 14, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 30°
1am 29°
2am 28°
3am 28°
4am 28°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

12:07a
Late Night with Seth Meyers
1:07a
Last Call with Carson Daly
1:37a
Inside Edition
12:30a
Cops
1:00a
Top 30
1:30a
Page Six TV

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Blindspot
8:00p
Dateline NBC
7:00p
The 86th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld