Slaughter Bills Before Montana, North Dakota Governors

A bill that would facilitate the development of a private sector horse processing plant in Montana is on its way back to Gov. Brian Schweitzer's desk now that the state's full legislature has rejected his amended version of the measure.  

In its original form, HB 418 prohibited 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 required anyone challenging permits to submit a surety bond representing 20% of the facility's estimated building cost, and it 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 in March. But on April 3, Schweitzer vetoed the measure, removed protections against licensing and court challenges, and sent his amended version back to the legislature for review.

April 16, the state's Senate voted 44-5 to reject the governor's amendments and return the bill to its original form. The Senate vote mirrors an earlier action by Montana House members who voted 59-41 against the changes.

Schweitzer has 10 days from the time the measure reaches his desk to sign or veto it. The bill automatically becomes law if he does not act.

Meanwhile, a North Dakota bill is on its way to Gov. John Hoeven for his signature. On April 16, House members passed HB 1496, authorizing a $50,000 study to evaluate potential legal challenges to slaughter plant development in that state. The state's senate approved its twin bill, SCR 4021, in March.

Hoeven is expected to act on the bill next week. If signed, the bill would become law in August. The state's Commerce Department would hold the funding until a formal study request is made, said SCR 4021 sponsor Sen. Joe Miller

Miller said one North Dakota municipality has expressed interest in studying the issue.

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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