Kansas HB 2121 of 2009 passed the Senate 22-15 and the House 82-42, but Governor Sebelius vetoed the bill with explicit comments regarding milk labeling (see articles, below).
A veto override in the next days or weeks is not out of the question. Your letters, e-mails and phone calls to your own Kansas representatives are just as important today as they have been for the past few months. Please take time to contact your legislators, reaffirming your commitment to accurate and descriptive food labeling.
=== The Associated Press posted this article yesterday afternoon. Comments from "Kansas lawmakers" notwithstanding, efforts to protect our rights to effective food labeling will not diminish. Please stand ready to work with us in the near future, to send a clear and persistent message to Monsanto, Lilly, and other corporations which seem determined to keep re-engineered foods on our tables. ===
By JOHN HANNA
Supporters of tougher rules for milk labeled as hormone-free probably can't override Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto of their bill, two key legislators said Friday.
The bill would have required dairy producers who market their milk as free of synthetic growth hormones for cows to add a disclaimer, starting in 2011. The disclaimer would have suggested there's no real difference between milk with and without the hormones.
Some major Kansas agriculture groups backed the bill. They saw it as a way to protect consumers from being misled by what they see as questionable claims about substances such as the artificial growth hormone rBST, which is used to boost a cow's milk production.
In vetoing the measure Thursday, Sebelius sided with critics who said the bill would hurt small dairies trying to find niche markets and consumers who want hormone-free milk.
Both Senate President Steve Morris, a Hugoton Republican, and Rep. Larry Powell, chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, noted that the bill failed to garner the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto in either chamber when it passed earlier this month.
"The way the votes went, I don't think we can override it," said Powell, a Garden City Republican. "I'm not sure we would want to waste the time trying."
The bill also contained other provisions on milk inspections, pesticide regulation and regulation of hog farms. Sebelius said legislators should approve those in separate legislation after they return Wednesday in their annual spring break.
Under the bill, products labeled as hormone free would have to have said the federal Food and Drug Administration has determined no significant difference exists between milk derived from cows treated with rBST and cows not receiving the hormone. That's based on a 1994 FDA finding.
Morris said the issue is the perceived credibility for consumers of a hormone-free label on milk and whether that credibility is deserved.
And Powell said: "I don't think you need to mislead the consumers one way or the other."
Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports magazine, had urged Sebelius to veto the measure. It was joined by 29 producers, retailers and health, consumer, agricultural, environmental and animal protection groups.
Those critics said recent data shows the FDA's previous conclusions aren't accurate.
"The bill's provisions on dairy labeling would have made it harder for consumers to get the information they want about the dairy products they consume," said Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union.
In her veto message, Sebelius cited such opposition, which she described as "overwhelming."
"Furthermore, I am concerned that patchwork labeling requirements that differ from state to state will make it too expensive, in an already troubled economy, to provide consumers with information regarding the dairy products they purchase," she wrote.FROM: http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D97P0C6G0.htm
=== 4/23/2009 ===
YES SHE DID!
To support Kansas dairy farmers and consumers, Governor Kathleen Sebelius has vetoed legislation concerning the labels on milk products.
“House Bill 2121 contains a number of provisions relating to pesticide and fertilizer laws and fees as well as dairy inspection and dairy-related fees. Without these fees, Kansas could lose important programs that support essential agricultural business operations in our state. I urge the legislature to send me these components in an independent bill so I can affix my signature and the Department of Agriculture can effectively administer these programs,” Sebelius said.
“However, the Bill before me also provides for changes in dairy labeling that could make it more difficult to provide consumers with clear information.
“The milk labeling provisions negatively impact a dairy producer’s ability to inform consumers that milk is from cows not treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBST).
“Supporters of the bill claim it’s necessary to protect consumers from false or misleading information. Yet there has been overwhelming opposition by consumer groups, small dairy producers and retailers to this proposed legislation.
“Furthermore, I am concerned that patchwork labeling requirements that differ from state to state will make it too expensive, in an already troubled economy, to provide consumers with information regarding the dairy products they purchase.
“Therefore, pursuant to Article 2, Section 14 of the Constitution of the State of Kansas, I veto HB 2121.”
The Governor signed an additional eight bills today and vetoed an additional two.