Update May 2, 2012: The Tennessee legislature’s 2012 session ended yesterday. H.B. 3619 was never taken up or put on the calendar after April 9. The bill is dead, but not before one last effort by Rep. Andy Holt to add to his bill a repeal of the sale and labeling laws that apply to horsemeat. Thanks to your calls and letters, that didn’t help the already ill-fated bill, and the bill is now dead for this year.
For more on this bill including Rep. Frank Niceley’s continuing attempts to bring horse slaughter to Tennessee, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.
Update April 9, 2012: Tennessee state Rep. Andy Holt announced today, ""After careful consideration of my bill, I recognize there are some more pressing concerns that still Saddle this legislation and therefore I respectfully request we Lead the bill over to next Monday’s calendar so we can Halter these concerns." That means he doesn’t have the votes because your Tennessee legislators are paying attention to your calls and letters in opposition to horse slaughter. H.B. 3619
Update April 4, 2012: H.B. 3619, as amended, is now set for a vote by the Tennessee House of Representatives on April 9, 2012. Read more about this bill in Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.
Update March 21, 2012: The vote on H.B. 3619 by the Tennessee House of Representatives has been postponed at least until April 9, 2012. Legislators report receiving 200-400 emails each and innumerable calls in opposition to this bill.
Go here to vote NO to the plan to facilitate horse slaughter in Tennessee.
For more on this bill and how you can help defeat it, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.
Original report: 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.