One Democratic and four Republican candidates for governor have a lot of ground to cover as they traverse the state seeking votes in this year’s election.

So far, only two have made stops in Neosho. While the other candidates still might make their way to Newton County before the August Republican primary and the November general election, GOP candidates Catherine Hanaway and John Brunner stopped in March in Neosho.

Hanaway, a former federal prosecutor and state House speaker, made an appearance March 5 at The Civic in downtown Neosho at an event named Saint Puppies Day. In its seventh year, the event brought to town about 200 pet breeders from across Missouri.

“They are a vital industry and a vital part of our agriculture economy in this state,” she said of pet breeders. “I want Missouri to be the No. 1 agribusiness state in the country. They would be key partners in achieving that when I become governor.”

The town hall began with a speech in which Hanaway rolled out her tort reform policy and ended with a question-and-answer session with the audience.

Hanaway is in the middle of a statewide tour holding town hall forums and meet-and-greets. She kicked off her tour when she announced her coalition comprised of prosecutors, sheriffs and other law enforcement officials from across the state. At the tour’s conclusion, she will have visited all 114 Missouri counties since starting her campaign.

The Neosho stop offered Hanaway an opportunity to point out that agribusiness is a broad spectrum and includes more than just farmers, but also seed engineers, truck drivers and more.

“It’s a many-layered, complex industry that is great for Missouri,” she said.

Hanaway heard from many pet breeders concerned about overreaching inspections and other regulations that hamper their industry.

“They’re very concerned about regulations and how they’re applied and about outside groups like the Human Society of the United States, which has poured money into states like ours trying to completely shut down their industry,” she said. “They would just assume there weren’t pet breeders period. They’re trying to put an end to modern agriculture. They’d like us all to be vegetarians.”

Hanaway’s tort reform policies are part of her greater campaign pledge to “Make Missouri Safe and Strong.”

“When I’m governor, the days of plaintiffs’ trial lawyers and liberal judges running jobs out of this state and farmers out of business are over,” Hanaway said in a statement. “Missouri has been rated as one of the worst judicial hellholes in the nation, and frivolous lawsuits are keeping jobs and investment out of this state. These common-sense reforms will restore power in our courts to every day Missourians and bring more jobs to our state.”

Tort reform applies to agriculture as Hanaway mentioned some examples.

“It’s truly amazing how many frivolous lawsuits get filed against people in agriculture over whether dogs bark or pigs stink. We need to put an end to that. They cost too much,” she said. “I talked to three pork producers the other day who are all being sued by the same trial lawyer. The trial lawyers are trying to force settlements.”

Hanaway’s tort reform policy highlights:

  • She supports a constitutional amendment that would require direct appointment and Senate confirmation of appellate court judges.
  • She wants to stop trial lawyers’ profiteering by prohibiting the attorney general from subcontracting on a contingency-fee basis.
  • She wants to put an end to frivolous lawsuits by moving to offer-of-settlement, loser-pays system. She supports adopting a system where if a defendant offers the plaintiff a settlement that the plaintiff rejects and the final judgment awarded is significantly less than the settlement offer, the plaintiff can be forced to pay the defendant’s legal bills from the time of the settlement offer.
  • She supports capping punitive damages including medical malpractice damages, eliminating joint and several liability, and putting punitive damages toward a victim’s compensation fund.
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