It started last Friday (my birthday!) when I took 3 kids to the Capitol to sit in the House Agriculture Committee meeting to show our support for fresh milk. It passed 12 to 4 and we needed 11 votes to get out of the committee and on to the House floor. (It is worthy to note that the bill's sponsor, Representative Alexander, had never tasted fresh milk until this meeting - crazy, huh? Glad he's all for food freedom!)
Because it is near the end of the session, our legislators are working overtime. So they met the following day - yes, a Saturday - to pass HB 1536, the Raw Milk Bill, through the House of Representatives. Amidst a lot of debate here, our bill managed to make it out of the House with 60 votes for and 19 against. NOT BAD!
Then, the bill was sent to the Senate the very same day (Saturday)! Within an hour and a half from passing in the House, it was being read in the Senate. It was read twice (a bill can be read three times before a vote) and was sent to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development.
Yesterday the Senate Ag. Committee met. I heard it was a rather heated debate, but again fresh milk prevailed!
Today, HB 1536 was read on the Senate floor for the third time. It turned out to be the toughest vote yet. Several Senators were strongly opposed, but others went to bat for food freedom, and we are so grateful! A special thank you goes to Senator David Sanders who, literally, stood up for the bill, arguing that it is a good bill that gives regular people like you and me the freedom to choose what we eat. It was certainly a tight vote, ending up with 19 votes for and 11 against. (It needed 18 to pass.) But the good news is...it PASSED! Lori was there with her four raw milk-drinking children. How incredible is that? They were able to see democracy in action--from the VIP Room, no less--and served as living proof that real milk is both safe and healthful! (They were also in the House Ag. Committee meeting on Friday.)
The entire time, we've been sending emails and calling our legislators, telling them to vote for food freedom. Thank you to all of you who have encouraged us on Facebook or emailed us to let us know you are communicating with our legislators, too. Wow! Together we can make a difference! And we have. The passing of this bill is no small feat. It has been tried...and has failed before. I am confident one of the reasons it has made it so far is because so many people have communicated with our legislators. Thank you for speaking up for food freedom.
But we're NOT completely out of the woods yet.
The bill must now be signed into law by Governor Beebe. Please call his office 501-682-3687 or 501-682-2345 and let him know that you want food freedom in Arkansas and yummy fresh cow's milk. Or you can fill out something on this on-line form. My sources tell me that both Farm Bureau and the Department of Health are in opposition to this bill and will be in touch with the Governor. Let your voice be heard.
May food freedom ring in Arkansas,