Montana Governor Vetoes Slaughter Bill, Suggests Changes

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer vetoed a bill that would encourage the horse processing industry to establish itself in that state on grounds that it insulates the industry from future legal challenges.

HB 418 prohibits Montana courts from granting injunctions to stop or delay horse processing plant construction based on permit or licensing challenges, or on environmental grounds. It also requires that anyone challenging permits submit a surety bond representing 20% of the facility's estimated building cost, and awards attorney and court fees to plaintiffs in cases District Courts deem harassing or without merit.

In his April 3 letter Schweitzer informed Montana House Speaker Bob Bergan that he vetoed the bill, and offered an amended version for legislative review.

Schweitzer's amended bill removes surety bond requirements and monetary awards to plaintiffs court cases. It also requires licensing for all Montana slaughter plants.

"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," Schweitzer wrote. "A person applying to license a horse slaughter facility in accordance with Montana law has nothing to fear from the amendments I propose."

HB418 sponsor Rep. Ed Butcher believes the legislature will strip the bill of Schweitzer's amendments when it reconsiders the bill next week.

"I think we're going to send it right back to him," Butcher said. "It's going to be interesting."

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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