JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri lawmakers push to protect rodeos within the state, under proposed legislation.
The House Agriculture Committee heard testimony on a bill, Wednesday, Jan. 29, that would ban the state of Missouri from prohibiting rodeos.
The need to protect rodeos in Missouri came from outside threats from animal rights special interest groups according to Rep. Tom Hurst, R-Meta.
"You'll see that rodeo was actually an industry, it's a business, it's a tradition, it’s a way of life and basically what we'd like to do is just be able to preserve that," Hurst said.
Several people testified in favor of the bill because a change in rodeos would mean a change in their everyday life. Randy Russell, owner of Championship Youth Bull Riding, said rodeos have been an important part of his life since he can remember. He said he hopes it has the same affect on the children he teaches.
"We try teaching these kids ethics, morals, like with our association they're not allowed to swear or anything like that," said Russell. "There is no drug, no alcohol allowed to be advertised at all period."
Bob Baker, Executive Director of Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation was the only person who testified in opposition to the bill.
Baker said he would like to see the bill include a clear definition of what a rodeo is because his concern is "Mexican rodeos," containing the event "horse tripping," will make their way into Missouri.
Horse tripping involves a group of riders on horseback chasing a single horse, lassoing the horse's front leg, then the horse falls down and eventually getting back up.
Baker said he feels horse tripping is animal cruelty.
Rep. Sonya Anderson, R-Springfield, said the bill would not be needed if Missourians in the rodeo industry had not been attacked before.
Hurst said the bill is more than just a proactive measure. He said the problem is not emerging, it is happening.
The committee took no immediate action on the bill.