Saturday, April 4, 2009

Montana Gov "Vetos" Slaughter Bill for WRONG Reasons, Cites "Constitutional Concerns" with Language of the Bill

Apparently, the Mt. Gov is OK with the idea of a horse-slaughter plant in Montana, stating that .. "I believe owners should have access to a legal method to put their horses down as necessary and appropriate -- due to age, infirmity, or other legitimate circumstances..."

Did anybody tell the gov that there already is "a legal method to put (their) horses down as necessary?" Its called Humane Euthansia!...
Apparently, this guy is not against horse-slaughter per se, he is just concerned about the Constitutionality of the bill, as written with all those protections against legal challanges. He did not actually "veto" the bill in toto, but made suggestions for amendments.

Wait and see, the amended bill will be back before him soon, and will pass next time when the bill can withstand constitutional scrutiny.



Montana Governor Vetoes Horse Slaughter Bill
Cites Constitutional Concerns April 3, 2009

The Honorable Bob Bergren Speaker of the House State Capitol Helena, MT
59620 The Honorable Robert Story, Jr. President of the Senate State
Capitol Helena, MT 59620 Dear Speaker Bergren and President Story:
In accordance with the power vested in me as Governor by the
Constitution and the laws of the State of Montana, I hereby return with
75-1-201, 75-2-104, 75-5-614, 75-5-621, 75-5-641, 81-9-111, 81-9-112,
81-9-115, 81-9-116, 81-9-201, 81-9-229, AND 81-9-230, MCA." I
begin by saying that my proposed amendments do not prevent the licensing
and operation of a horse slaughter facility in Montana. My amendments
retain those aspects of HB 418 that clarify existing law to ensure that
a horse slaughter facility, if licensed to operate in Montana, conforms
to Montana's current laws pertaining to all livestock slaughter
facilities. My amendments are focused on eliminating what I believe is
the unnecessary and potentially harmful special treatment that would be
granted to one particular industry under this bill. Before addressing
my specific amendments, I want you to know that, like you, I believe
horse owners must be responsible for the health and care of their
animals. Like you, I believe it is unacceptable that any horse would be
left starving or to die due to neglect. I also believe owners should
have access to a legal method to put their horses down as necessary and
appropriate -- due to age, infirmity, or other legitimate circumstances.
While I understand the value in licensing horse slaughter facilities, it
is equally important that any facility approved to operate in Montana
comply with this state's health and environmental laws. Therefore,
a person applying to license a horse slaughter facility who wishes to do
so in accordance with Montana law has nothing to fear from the
amendments I propose. Specifically, my amendments address the
limitations imposed upon a person seeking to bring a legal challenge to
a license approving a horse slaughter facility. Those limitations are
found in sections 1 and 2 of HB 418, which my proposed amendments would
strike. I believe sections 1 and 2 of the bill are unnecessary, cast
too wide a net, and suffer from potential constitutional infirmities.
Section 1 of HB 418 would prohibit a court from enjoining the
construction of a horse slaughter facility based on a challenge to a
permit or license approving the facility under Montana's
environmental laws. An injunction is a remedy in equity available to
litigants to preserve the status quo where a remedy in law would be
inadequate. The remedy of injunction is not freely granted. It is my
opinion that current statutory standards for the issuance of injunctions
already provide sufficient safeguards to ensure the remedy of injunction
will only be available to a party under limited and justified
circumstances. For example, § 27-19-201, MCA, authorizes a court to
grant a preliminary injunction only if it appears the applicant will be
successful on the merits, a great or irreparable injury would occur if
the activity were allowed to continue, when it appears the adverse party
is doing or threatening to do an act in violation of the applicant's
rights, or for other similarly justified equitable reasons. In other
words, I believe that the legal standards currently in existence
sufficiently safeguard the rights of all parties, and, conversely, that
the restriction upon a court's power to enjoin construction of a
facility unnecessarily tips this balance. Section 1 of HB 418
additionally would impose liability for "all financial losses"
incurred by the facility as a result of an injunction halting operations
of the facility if the person bringing the challenge is ultimately
unsuccessful. As a practical matter, and I assume the bill was so
designed, this penalty provision would have the effect of chilling any
efforts to enjoin the operation of a constructed horse slaughter
facility by a person challenging the adequacy of the permit,
notwithstanding the real harm that might be caused by the continuing
operation of the facility. I am unaware of any equivalent provision in
Montana law, and I believe its inclusion in this bill unfairly tips the
balance by discouraging a challenger from seeking what would otherwise
be a legitimate injunction for the benefit and protection of public
health and safety. Again, I believe the current, established legal
standards relating to the issuance of injunctions – including the
current standards pertaining to an award of costs and damages to persons
wrongfully enjoined – are sufficiently stringent and properly
balance the competing rights of litigants. I do not believe special
rules are necessary or appropriate for this particular industry.
Turning to section 2 of HB 418, I am concerned that this mandatory
surety bond requirement, established in the bill at the high rate of 20%
of the cost to build or operate the facility, and imposed upon any
person who challenges a license granted to operate a horse slaughter
facility, would effectively deny citizens access to the courts in
Montana, in contravention of Article II, section 16 of the Montana
Constitution. I am unaware of any other provision in Montana law
requiring the posting of a surety bond as a condition to bringing a
challenge to the issuance of a permit under Montana's environmental
laws. I also question the language found in subsection (4) of section
2, which authorizes an award of attorney fees and costs on grounds that
the challenge was "without merit." I believe the meaning of
that expression is unclear and would, itself, lead to litigation.
Current law already provides courts with well-settled authority to
sanction parties or their attorneys who file pleadings in court for
improper purposes. As with my other concerns, I see no reason to impose
new, special, and undefined standards in this bill, applicable to this
one industry, where current law adequately provides for sanctions in
proper circumstances. In addition to the above amendments, I also
propose an amendment to section 12 of the bill. As written, the bill
requires "investor-owned" horse slaughter facilities to be
licensed pursuant to Montana's licensing laws. My amendment would
require all horse slaughter facilities, whether "investor-owned"
or otherwise, to be licensed. The remainder of my amendments are
necessary to coordinate with the amendments to strike sections 1 and 2
of the bill. I recognize that HB 418 has stirred the emotions of
many. As a current and long-time horse owner, myself, I understand
those feelings. However, I have endeavored to make my decisions on the
bill based on what I believe is the correct approach from both a policy
and a legal perspective. I respectfully ask that you support my
proposed amendments to HB 418. Sincerely, BRIAN SCHWEITZER
GOVERNOR cc: Legislative Services Division

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