Montana Horse Processing Bill Becomes Law

Montana proposed legislation HB 418 automatically became law after Gov. Brian Schweitzer neither signed nor vetoed the measure. The governor's communication director, Sarah Elliott, issued a statement saying, "The governor made his opinion on this bill known, the Legislature did the same. No action was taken and the bill has now become law."Montana proposed legislation HB 418 automatically became law after Gov. Brian Schweitzer neither signed nor vetoed the measure. The governor's communication director, Sarah Elliott, issued a statement saying, "The governor made his opinion on this bill known, the Legislature did the same. No action was taken and the bill has now become law."

Story originally posted by: by Stephanie DuquetteReprinted from the Quarter Horse News

Montana proposed legislation HB 418 automatically became law after Gov. Brian Schweitzer neither signed nor vetoed the measure. The governor’s communication director, Sarah Elliott, issued a statement saying, "The governor made his opinion on this bill known, the Legislature did the same. No action was taken and the bill has now become law."

HB 418, sponsored by Rep. Ed Butcher (R-Winifred), clears the way for construction of a processing plant by preventing Montana courts from issuing an injunction stopping or delaying the construction of an equine-processing facility. It also requires anyone who challenges a facility’s environmental permit to post a substantial bond.

During the 2009 legislative session, which adjouned on April 28, HB 418 passed the House and Senate then went to the governor on March 24. While Schweitzer supported the idea of horse processing in his state, he struck language from the bill that would have protected a plant from court appeals to stop its construction and sent the bill back. The House and Senate rejected the governor’s amendments and it landed back on his desk on April 21. The governor had the choice to sign the bill, reject the bill or let it sit for 10 days, at which it would automatically become law. That 10-day period expired on Friday.

In an opinon issued in March, the governor said, "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," the governor wrote."

Rep. Ed Butcher supports processing as part of the solution to the growing unwanted horse problem, as well as an economic boost for Montana.

"This bill is really about providing a humane and regulated processing plant," he said. "This is a business. And we want to look at it. We want to have a humane way to address this problem."

He also believed the inclusion of language to limit legal challenges was necessary.

"My concern is to establish a law with strong enough language to provide adequate protection for an investor to build a processing facility," Butcher said. Montana must protect them from being forced out of business by the ‘animal rights’ radicals who forced three plants in the U.S. to close in 2006 and 2007."

In Washington, D.C., the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is considering HR 503, a measure that would ban horse slaughter everywhere in the United States by preventing the transport or export of horses for human consumption.