Bills that would allow the slaughter of horses but continue the existing ban on the sale of horse meat for consumption in Oklahoma are galloping through the Legislature.
Measures won easy approval Wednesday in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Senate Bill 375, by Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, passed 38-6. House Bill 1999, by Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, won approval 82-14. SB 375 goes to the House and HB 1999 goes to the Senate.
SB 375 would revoke the state's 1963 law banning the sale of horse meat, which would end the prohibition on horse slaughtering or the sale of horse meat. HB 1999 would allow horse slaughter but would continue the existing ban on the sale of horse meat for consumption in the state.
“Rep. McNiel, let me get this straight now — we're going to take horses and grind them up and eat them?” asked Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, the lone House member to debate against HB 1999.
“No, sir,” McNiel replied. “We're going to take horses and process them and send them to a market that wants them, which can be overseas. We will not eat them in Oklahoma or the United States.”
Cynthia Armstrong, state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said after the votes that lawmakers were racing the measures through before public opposition could mount.
McNiel said since domestic horse slaughter plants ceased operations in 2006, more horse owners who can't afford their aging horses are turning them out on roads, abandoning them on other people's pastures or simply allowing them to starve. Congress last year restored funding for U.S. inspectors to oversee horse slaughter, allowing the way for slaughter and processing to resume.