Having been assigned to three of the five State House of Representatives committees he had requested, Rep. Randy Pike is seeking the approval of a proposed constitutional amendment that he says would help protect Missourians' rights to hunt, fish and farm against out,of,state groups that would like to hamper those prerogatives.
Representing Vernon and Bates counties in the 126th Representative District, Pike said his vantage point as a member of the House Agricultural Policy Committee should help him add impetus to House Joint Resolution 7, which was written by Rep. Jason Smith, R,Salem, in Dent County in south central Missouri.
Pike has also been named to the Veterans and Retirement committees in Jefferson City by House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, west of St. Louis.
Noting that the House's other agriculturally related committee is Ag Business, Pike said ag policy, chaired by Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, "is concerned with the future of agriculture and the direction it is headed.
"I co-signed HJR 7 to protect our rights from special interest groups that are wanting to come in and dictate what's happening in Missouri," he said. "We want to preserve the rights and freedom of our people to be able to hunt, fish and farm without somebody dictating what they want rather than what's best for Missouri.
"The more they try to control it, the less freedom farmers and ranchers have."
Smith's plan resembles an amendment that has been enacted in North Dakota, where vegan and animal rights groups had heavily funded an initative to alter animal regulations, according to news reports.
Pike said a central difficulty in representing a rural district like the 126th is that many of the urban politicians from Kansas City and St. Louis have little familiarity or empathy with its concerns. "A good majority of them don't understand all the procedures that go into farming," he said.
Pike said the Veterans Committee secured a long,term source of funding for the state's seven veterans' homes last year, but there are still a number of concerns that the committee must stay on top of. "There have been some big issues in the past and I assume it will be the same as we go on," he said.
Referring to his precedessor, Rep. Barney Fisher, Pike said, "Barney told me it would be good to be on this committee.
"My father was a veteran, so I will look out for the veterans without a doubt. I have a lot of military background in my past, so I want to preserve those rights. Veterans are so important to our country and they don't get enough recognition to help preserve what they have earned."
Gov. Jay Nixon last May 31 signed into law House Bill 1731 to increase the amount that was being transferred from the Missouri Gaming Commission Fund to the Veterans' Commission Capitol Improvement Fund, which provided a dedicated annual source of $32 million to operate cemeteries and the homes where more than 1,300 vets live.
Nixon said the measure would circumvent a revenue shortfall in future years and let administrators prepare for home replacements or repairs.
Pike said the Retirement Committee deals with issues related to the retirements of state employees like teachers. "This committee helps the retirees preserve what they have earned," he said.
"Barney and other legislators and past legislators have all told me the same thing," said Pike, adding that the other committees on his list of preferred assignments were Higher Education and Economic Development, the latter of which he hopes to be on next year.
"They said to pay attention, make friends, learn the ropes and see how the procedures go because there is plenty of time to make legislation."