Livestock liability bill perfected in Senate
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A bill from Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, relating to livestock trespass liability was perfected in the Senate Tuesday, but that does not mean some legislators did not have a beef with the bill.
Parson’s bill would save the bacon of livestock owners whose livestock gets onto someone else’s property and causes damage to that property should the livestock owner not be negligent.
“If you have a farmer that has done nothing wrong and a homeowner that has done nothing wrong, why is anyone liable?” Parson said. “At the end of the day, when people are not liable, when they did nothing wrong, they shouldn’t be punished for that.”
However, Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, noted that if the property owner was not found negligent, then the owner of the property would be found liable, something that could cause those property owners to cry over spilled milk.
So Schaaf argued an amendment that if the livestock owner was not found negligent, the livestock owner and property owner would split the cost down the middle. Schaaf argued that this was not some pork barrel amendment, but rather something that contributed to solving the problem Parson’s bill addressed.
“What we’re talking about here is a person suffering property damage caused by another person’s animal,” he said. “If I own property and your cows get out through no fault of your own… you think you shouldn’t be held liable, I also feel I shouldn’t be held liable for that. My compromise is that if nobody else is negligent, the owner of the animals would still be responsible for 50 percent of the damages sustained.
“I just don’t think it would be right to pass this in this form.”
Schaaf played chicken with other senators, trying to get to the meat of the matter, and even citing where in the Bible he took inspiration from for splitting the damages. However, he was ultimately unsuccessful as the Senate made mincemeat of his amendment by voting it down with a near-unanimous voice vote
“This kind of legislation is going to cause more problems between neighbors who have gotten along,” Sen. David Sater said. “There will be families against each other because of this.”
Parson did not support the amendment but was bullish in making sure the underlying bill was perfected. His efforts were successful, as the Senate voted to perfect it.