The Indiana General Assembly – make that the Republican assembly – just can’t get enough of snatching power away from county and local authorities. Their latest effort is to abuse the power to amend our Indiana Constitution to protect the big business of factory farming – those confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that are hazardous to our health and our environment.
As this year’s session ended, little attention was paid to a number of legislative efforts that made it through. One of those “under the radar” pieces of legislation is Senate Joint Resolution 9. The disingenuous caption given to this slippery piece of legislation is “Constitutional right to hunt and fish.”
Ah, one might ask just what is wrong with protecting hunting and fishing? Were that the only wording, it might be somewhat palatable even if it is an absurd use of the amending power. But the text of the Resolution reads as follows:
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO HUNT AND FISH. Provides that the people have a right to hunt, fish, harvest game, or engage in the agricultural or commercial production of meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products, which is a valued part of our heritage and shall be forever preserved for the public good, subject to laws prescribed by the general assembly and rules prescribed by virtue of the authority of the general assembly. Provides that hunting and fishing is the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. Provides that this constitutional amendment does not limit the application of any laws relating to trespass or property rights. This proposed amendment has not been previously agreed to by a general assembly.
The Republicans are abusing the amending power by enshrining forever what they have determined to be a constitutional right to hunt and fish. But this isn’t the real reason for the disingenuous use of the amending process. Notice the addition of the “right” to engage in the agricultural or commercial production of meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products. Calling these a “valued” part of our heritage is absolutely absurd.
What the Republicans are really attempting to do is constitutionally protect the mega-farms of which Daniels is so fond and remove any county and local attempts to limit their construction or regulation. Recall back in 2005, Daniels and his subservient Lieutenant Governor, Becky Skillman, came up with their “Possibilities Unbound.” The plan was to double hog production as well as increase other forms of livestock production.
The amendment was just put forth in this session, so it must go through additional passages and be placed on the ballot for voter approval. Of course, who wouldn’t want to memorialize hunting and fishing as our “heritage” – picturing those musket-toting Hoosier ancestors out there in the woods and fields of Indiana – coonskin caps pulled jauntily to the side covering heads full of bushy hair.
But hiding under visions of frontier hunters hauling home their kill for the sustenance of their families is a flat-out misrepresentation of the true intentions of Republican Senate Joint Resolution 9. The big agricultural forces have inserted their sticky, manure-covered fingers into the pockets of the Republicans and have come up with an amendment that, while raising visions of rough and tough Hoosier hunters and fishers on the prowl, actually protects hazardous CAFOs – factory farms so far from our ancestral ideals of hunting and fishing that would our ancestors be here, they would be saying “shame on you” for even attempting a comparison.
Compare the above picture to the accepted notion of hunting and fishing.
The public needs to understand that, should they be fooled into adopting this amendment, local and county control of factory farms will be gone. Local control will be replaced with rules made by the Republican-controlled and factory farm friendly General Assembly – just another Republican ploy to remove local control. Haven’t we seem enough of this lately?