Horse facility bill lapses into law
By CHARLES S. JOHNSON
Gazette State Bureau
HELENA - A controversial bill encouraging the construction of horse slaughterhouses in Montana and restricting legal challenges to such facilities became law Friday without Gov. Brian Schweitzer's signature.
Schweitzer refused to sign or veto the bill. Under the Montana Constitution, a bill automatically becomes law 10 days after the governor receives it, if he does not sign or veto it.
"The governor made his opinion on this bill known; the Legislature did the same," said Schweitzer's spokeswoman, Sarah Elliott. "No action was taken, and the bill has now become law."
Elliott was referring to Schweitzer's failed attempt to get the Legislature to amend House Bill 418, by Rep. Ed Butcher, R-Winifred. Schweitzer asked lawmakers in early April to remove major provisions aimed at limiting legal challenges to slaughterhouses' operating permits.
The possibility of opening a horse processing facility in the United States is one step closer to reality because of a bill that became law in Montana over the weekend. The new law will afford some extra protections to anyone that would like to build a facility. Unwanted horses numbers seem to continue rising and because they now have to leave the country in order to be harvested, the problem seems to be snowballing. Hopefully Congress will be willing to allow states to deal with this problem without interfering.