Montana law favors building of horse slaughter facilities

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A Montana law encouraging construction of privately owned horse slaughterhouses is now in effect. The measure also restricts legal challenges to such facilities.

H.B. 418 became law May 1 after Gov. Brian Schweitzer refused to sign or veto the bill. Under the Montana Constitution, a bill automatically becomes law 10 days after the governor receives it, if he does not sign or veto it.

Schweitzer previously vetoed the bill and sent an amended version back to the legislature. The governor had asked lawmakers in April to remove provisions aimed at limiting legal challenges to slaughterhouses' operating permits. The provisions insulate prospective plant developers by prohibiting state courts from granting injunctions designed to stop or delay construction of horse slaughter or processing facilities on permit, licensing, or environmental grounds.

Legislators returned the bill to its original form and sent it to Schweitzer a second time.

The Montana legislature had previously passed a bill—H.J.R. 8—that urges Congress to oppose federal legislation that interferes with a state's ability to direct the transport or processing of horses. It was signed into law March 3.

A number of other state legislatures have been dealing with horse slaughter-related bills (see JAVMA, April 1, 2009). In Rhode Island, H.R. 6026 urges Congress to support federal legislation to protect American horses from slaughter for human consumption; it was adopted by the state House on March 31.

A bill (H.B. 1496) was signed into law April 24 in North Dakota that would appropriate $50,000 to fund a horse processing facility feasibility study. It would determine whether any existing facilities could be converted into a processing facility, and the nature and scope of existing and potential markets for horse meat and other byproducts.

Visit "State legislative updates" for the latest information on state legislation related to unwanted horses and horse slaughter.