Cross-posted from Animal Law Coalition
Tennessee Rep. Frank Nicely is back this session with another effort to smooth the way for a horse slaughterhouse to open in the state. House Bill 3619 just cleared the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee and could be scheduled for a vote by the full House at any time.
Until the committee hearing the bill simply directed the agriculture commissioner to post and keep current statistics and other information required to be collected about equines and to provide that information upon request to the Tennessee Equine Association.
Harmless enough, except that during the committee hearing on March 13, 2012, Nicely introduced amendments under a new declaration that “the General Assembly intends to encourage the location of equine slaughter and processing facilities in Tennessee that meet…requirements”. The new provisions approved by the committee would make it more difficult to challenge issuance of a permit for a horse slaughter facility by requiring a bond equal to 20% of the estimated cost of building the facility or operational costs, if those can be determined. Venue would be limited to the court where the facility is located and not also where the defendant can be found or does business.
A challenger would be required to pay the slaughter facility’s legal fees and court costs if a court finds the suit was without merit or brought for an “improper purpose” including harassment, delay or interference. If a plaintiff does not prevail ultimately after obtaining an injunction, the plaintiff “is liable for all financial losses the facility suffers” as a result of an injunction halting operations.
The bill is similar to a Montana law passed in 2009.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
H.B. 3619 as amended is on the calendar for a vote by the full House of Representatives on Monday, March 19, 2012. The Senate version, S.B. 3461, has not yet been amended, but committee hearings are scheduled for March 20, 2012 where this bill is likely to be amended with the same pro-slaughter provisions. If you live in Tennessee, find your state legislators here. Write or call now and urge them to vote NO on H.B. 3619/S.B. 3461.
A big thank you to Laura Allen for this information!