Lawmaker Urges Hearing on Bill for County-Option Vote on Horse Slaughter PlantsWed, 19 Feb 2014 16:22:53 CST
Time is running out for Oklahomans who want a say in whether or not a horse slaughter plant should be built in their community. Sen. Randy Bass is the author of Senate Joint Resolution 66, which has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Agriculture. So far the measure has not been given a hearing, and if the bill isn't heard in committee by next Monday, the issue will likely be dead for the session.
"This isn't a hypothetical situation. I understand there may be plans for a horse slaughter plant near the Oklahoma City Stockyards, but without SJR 66, the people who will be most impacted by this won't have any say in the matter," said Bass, D-Lawton. "When she signed last year's bill legalizing horse slaughter in Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin said local communities should be given the right to say no to horse slaughter plants-this bill makes sure they'll have that right."
A SoonerPoll revealed the overwhelming majority of Oklahomans opposed horse slaughter, regardless of political party or whether they lived in a rural or urban area. Bass said that's reflected in the bipartisan support for his bill in the state, county and local levels as well as among private citizens.
Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, is the House author of SJR 66.
"This bill simply lets the people who would be most affected by having a horse slaughter facility in their area have some input as to whether it happens," Dank said. "Without this legislation, there are many citizens in our state who will be left with no recourse other than moving."
Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan is also among those supporting SJR 66. His district includes Stockyards City, and he urged all members of Oklahoma County's legislative delegation to give SJR 66 their full support.
"This is just a few hundred yards from the western end of the Oklahoma River. Do we really want to invite Olympic rowing events to Oklahoma City to be greeted by pollution from a horse slaughter operation staining the water? It is just a mile or so southwest of downtown," Maughan said. "Are we really anxious to invite visitors to enjoy our downtown renaissance and then have to explain that noxious odor coming up from a horse slaughter plant just down the street?"
Maughan, a Republican, said the Stockyards area was already one of the more economically endangered sections of the metro. He said the problems that would inevitably come with a horse slaughter operation would worsen that situation with lower property values and increased crime.
Canadian County Sheriff Randall Edwards echoed those concerns.
"Building a horse slaughter house in Canadian County or in the vicinity would promote crime, including the theft of horses. It would have a negative impact on our county's image," Edwards said. "I can't imagine anybody in their right mind promoting or being associated with the slaughtering of horses. Every county ought to have the opportunity to be able to vote to stop the construction of a horse slaughter plant."
Bass said the experiences in other communities like Kaufman, Texas, give weight to the concerns raised by Maughan, Edwards and others supporting legislation to let local communities vote on the issue.
"Their property values fell. Horse theft increased, and there were serious environmental problems," Bass said. "These plants pollute the air and the water. In Texas, the sewage treatment plants were overwhelmed, with sewage containing horse sludge that actually backed up into people's toilets and bathtubs. Those plants eventually were closed, but the damage had been done."
Bass said he learned this week that former OU Coach Barry Switzer and his wife, Becky, were also among the many Oklahomans who have come forward in support of SJR 66.
"The clock is ticking on SJR 66," Bass said. "We need to have a hearing on this measure before it's too late to hear it, and too late to help those Oklahomans who will be directly impacted by horse slaughter operations."
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