This was written for my Close to Home column in my town’s (Doniphan, MO) local weekly newspaper The Prospect-News.
Blame this column on a Facebook post – the one that showed a row of dead feral hogs and advertising the meat for free distribution to anyone needing it. Based on MDC regulations discontinuing the hunting of this pest and the mounting controversy over such a declaration, compounded by the bowing of USDA Forest Service to MDC policy prohibiting the hunting in Mark Twain National Forest, I was curious how 123 hogs met this fate. Local activist and friend Jim Smith led me in the right direction for details.
Missouri State Representative Chris Dinkins of District #144 phoned with information. The hunt was organized by constituents in her district. It was a two-day competition among eleven teams, five members each, on private land. The 123 hogs killed provided almost 8000 pounds of meat for donation. About two hundred folks showed up on a Sunday afternoon at the Quick Mart in Centerville/Ellington area for the distribution. The group hopes to have monthly hunting competitions till late spring.
Dinkins shared with me her steps to make MDC more accountable. The four commissioners on the MDC are appointed by the governor to regulate policy for the state’s eight conservation regions. Her first proposal – HJR 108 – calls for increasing the membership to nine, one for each region elected by its voters plus one governor appointee. This change would give rural areas more representation.
She also filed HJR 112 which would give voters the chance to redirect some of the money generated by the conservation sales and use tax. It is her belief that MDC operates as a fourth branch of the state’s government, with no accountability and a savings account balance of almost $100 million. If HJR 112 passes, ⅓ of the current ⅛ cent tax would go to MDC, ⅓ to the veterans’ commission and ⅓ to the sexual assault forensic examination program.
She did not stop with the two proposed constitutional amendments. Dinkins has also filed House Concurrent Resolution 81 to urge the Forest Service to abolish its ruling that prohibits the hunting of feral hogs in MTNF.
Our Missouri State Representative is Jeff Shawan. Here is a chance to share your wishes with our elected representative. It would be great for him to hear from a lot of his constituents in District #153 about HJR 112, HJR 108 and Resolution 81. Remember that voting districts are determined by population, so our 2020 census has great significance.
Missouri House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 415-B
Jefferson City, Missouri 65101