Thursday, April 9, 2009

Montana House Rejects Slaughter Bill Amendments

by: Pat Raia
April 09 2009, Article # 13925
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The Montana House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected gubernatorial amendments to a bill that would facilitate the establishment of privately owned horse processing plants in that state.

In its original form, HB 418 prohibited state courts from granting injunctions to stop or delay construction of horse slaughter or processing facilities based on permit or licensing challenges or on environmental grounds. The measure also required anyone challenging permits to submit a surety bond representing 20% of the facility's estimated building cost. The bill awarded attorney and court fees to plaintiffs in cases District Courts deem harassing or without merit.

The bill passed both houses of Montana's legislature and was presented to Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who on April 3 vetoed the measure, removed provisions concerning licensing and court challenges, and sent his amended version back to the House for review.

Lawmakers rejected the governor's amendments 59-41 and returned the bill to its original form. HB 418 sponsor Rep. Ed Butcher said the proposed amendments gutted the legislation.

"No company is going to invest $5 or $6 million in a plant unless there is something here to protect it against licensing and court challenges," he said.

The bill now returns to the state's senate for review.

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