A measure to allow privately owned horse processing facilities in Montana became law last week when Gov. Brian Schweitzer allowed the bill to lapse into law.

HB 418 insulates prospective plant developers from permit and licensing challenges on environmental and other grounds, and awards attorney and court fees to plaintiffs in cases District Courts deem harassing or without merit.

The measure automatically became law after Schweitzer declined to sign or veto it 10 days after it reached his desk.

Schweitzer had previously vetoed the bill and sent an amended version back to the legislature. But legislators returned the bill to its original form and sent it back to Schweitzer a second time.

The horse slaughter issue, however, is far from settled, even in Montana. Still pending before the U.S. Congress is the 2009 Prevention of Cruelty to Equines Act and the Prohibit Horses for Human Consumption Act. — Greg Henderson, Drovers editor.