House, Senate pass horse slaughter measures
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer & BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Thursday, February 21, 2013
2/21/13 at 6:58 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - Both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature passed separate measures on Wednesday allowing horse slaughterhouses to operate in the state.
The House of Representatives passed House Bill 1999 on an 82-14 vote.
The Senate passed Senate Bill 375 on a 38-6 vote with no debate.
The measures would strike the state's legal ban on horse slaughter facilities but only allow facilities if the meat is to be exported internationally. The Senate bill would require that horses headed to slaughter be sold through a livestock auction and purchased by a livestock dealer.
Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, author of the House version, said it was a humane alternative to starving horses being abandoned on rural roads.
"Nobody wants horses to be abused," McNiel said. "I don't."
But without a domestic horse slaughter plant, thousands of aging animals will either be abandoned when their useful lives pass or be sent to Mexico for inhumane slaughter, she said.
Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, a former racehorse owner who said he would have shot anyone who suggested slaughtering one of his animals, was one of the few House members to question the proposal.
"Rep. McNiel, let me get this straight," Dank said. "We're going to take horses and grind them up and eat them?"
McNiel said no horse meat would be sold in Oklahoma, but it would be exported to nations where it is considered food. In response to another question from Dank, McNiel also said she did not know of anyone actively considering putting a horse slaughter facility in the state.
Later, Dank debated against the proposal, saying it would damage the state's reputation.
"We're talking about image," Dank said. "I don't want people thinking of Oklahoma as the state where you slaughter your horses."
McNiel said none of the opponents to horse slaughter have been able to bring forward a workable solution to dealing with aging horses.
"Nobody really wants to talk about solutions," McNiel said. "Instead, they resort to mudslinging."
Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Laverne, said that if a horse slaughter plant were to be built in the state, it would probably be built in his Panhandle district, where he has found no one opposing the idea.
Rep. Curtis McDaniel, D-Smithville, also emphasized the economic development potential of a horse processing plant.
"It's not just a humane deal, but it's an economic deal," he said, adding that his father ships two loads of horses a week to Mexico for slaughter.
Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, a veterinarian, said people in his district used to put chains on their gates to keep people from stealing their livestock, but now they lock the gates to keep others from abandoning broken-down horses there.
Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon, told the story of his children's pet horse, Jack, who had to be shot after it was unable to maintain its weight and health.
"These are horses that have gotten to that point in life, they just can't make it," he said.
"This is not about eating horses, folks," he said. "We don't eat horses in America."
Animal right activists have pushed horse slaughter out of the United States, creating a situation that can't be inspected for sanitation and humane treatment.
"The do-gooders in this world ... have done something very bad by trying to do good," Armes said. "They have pushed horse slaughter to Mexico."
On the Senate side, Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, voted against the measure. He said he was concerned that the horse meat could somehow find its way into the nation's food supply.
Sen. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, also voted against the measure.
"I had a lot of constituents contact me on both sides of this issue," Halligan said. "I thought my vote reflected their wishes."
Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, said he voted against the measure because he didn't like how it was phrased, adding that he had a problem telling property owners it had to be exported.
Although the measures are similar and both have passed, neither has been considered in both houses. The House bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. The Senate bill goes to the House for consideration.
Horse slaughterhouses in Oklahoma
House 'no' votes
House Bill 1999 passed on a 82-14 vote.
In addition to Dank, voting against the measure were: Rep. Marian Cooksey, R-Edmond; Rep. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City; Rep. Katie Henke, R-Tulsa; Rep. Scott Inman, D-Oklahoma City; Rep. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa; Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa; Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City; Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa; Rep. Seneca Scott, D-Tulsa; Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City; Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman; Rep. Ken Walker, R-Tulsa, and Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater.
Not voting were: Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, Rep. Lisa Billy, R-Lindsay; Rep. John Enns, R-Enid; Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City and Rep. Aaron Stiles, R-Norman.
Senate 'no' votes
Senate Bill 375 passed on a 38-6 vote.
In addition to Crain, Dahm and Halligan, voting against the measure were: Sen. Cliff Branan, R-Oklahoma City; Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee; and Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman.
Not voting were: Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton; Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa; Sen. Al McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City and Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.
Original Print Headline: Lawmakers pass horse slaughter measures
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308 Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
Rep. Skye McNiel: She said her House version of a measure allowing horse slaughterhouses was a humane alternative to horses being abandoned.