The Montana House Tuesday easily endorsed a bill to allow and encourage horse-slaughtering plants in the state, as supporters said it will address a national crisis of horse abandonment and bring jobs to Montana.
Supporters also said a slaughter plant could offer economic development in rural Montana.
“This is a multibillion-dollar industry and you need to take a look at the positive things this can do for the state,” said Rep. Tony Belcourt, D-Box Elder. “The amount of revenue we could generate from this business is huge.”
Butcher said European companies are interested in perhaps building a plant in America and shipping the product overseas.
Supporters of the bill also blocked two amendments on the floor. One would have stripped out provisions that shielded a plant from some legal action; another would have required the plant to pay a local “prevailing wage” to workers.
“I simply want this plant built under the same rules that every other plant is built under,” said Rep. John Fleming, D-St. Ignatius, in support of the first amendment.
HB418 also says if someone goes to court to block a horse-slaughter plant, the person must post a bond at 20 percent of the estimated cost of the project. If the lawsuit eventually fails, the person filing it would be liable for financial losses suffered by the developer if the project is delayed. -- (Mike Dennison)