Helena IR Editorial Urges Schweitzer Veto of Horse Slaughter Bill

By Beacon Staff

Left in the West points out an editorial I missed: The Helena Independent Record’s board last week urged Gov. Brian Schweitzer to veto the bill encouraging horse slaughter in Montana, which recently passed the state Legislature. I anticipate increasing calls from many on the left for Schweitzer to kill this bill in coming weeks. The objections derive from, not so much the issue of horse slaughter itself, but the provisions in the bill which prevent environmental legal challenges to a proposed horse slaughter operation at certain stages of its development. And that’s exactly what the Helena IR editorial points out:

The fact is, all horses die, and not every owner can afford to euthanize the animal and give it a proper burial. It’s a costly process, and you can’t just euthanize a horse and leave it in a field to rot.

However, Butcher’s bill is far off base, and raises significant questions.

Since when can a legislative act limit the legal authority of a court?

Or, for that matter, how can the Legislature limit a citizen’s right to challenge a government action by any legal means possible?

This bill would set a poor precedent for an industry that has already shown disregard for environmental regulations elsewhere.

Over at Left in the West, Jay Stevens wondered why this bill didn’t draw more objections earlier in the legislative process. It’s a good question, and I, for one, thought the language in the bill preventing courts from halting construction of approved facilities, or requiring legal challengers to post bonds for 20 percent of a slaughter house’s construction cost, would have gotten altered somewhere along the line as the bill moved through committees. Surprisingly, somehow it didn’t. Maybe environmental concerns over a horse slaughter house aren’t considered as serious as, say, large-scale coalbed-methane development. Or maybe interest in fast-tracking some industrial development in this session is simply too powerful to stand in the way of. But the decision now rests in Schweitzer’s lap as to what to do with this bill, and on this issue, I’m not willing to predict which way he’s going to fall.

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