The Idaho Senate is considering a memorial telling Congress not to impose new laws that could put more restrictions on horse slaughter. A similar plan failed in the Senate last year after passing the House.

The federal legislation, proposed by Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, would penalize possessing, selling, shipping, or receiving a horse, a horse carcass, or horse flesh for the intent of human consumption. Those actions would carry a fine or prison term of up to three years. Conyers introduced the legislation last January. The plan has 180 co-sponsors, but hasn’t moved out of a U.S. House subcommittee since March 2009.

Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, is pushing for Idaho to come out against the proposal before Congress acts. “I think it’s important for the states to weigh in, and that’s what I’m asking Idaho to do,” he said Monday after introducing the new memorial in the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee. The wording of the memorial changed since last session and has been expanded to include all horses, not just domestic horses. “This is more precise and more targeted,” Brackett said. “In addition to that, the problem has become more acute with each passing year. There’s more unwanted, uncared for, and neglected horses, so the problem is still growing and still out there.” He said the economic recession is affecting horses and their owners. “Sanctuaries, safe havens, and rescue operations are literally being overwhelmed and the number of horses continue to increase every year. With the high cost of feed and hay and the down economic times, people are literally abandoning their horses. That results in a growing problem on public lands as well as parks, or wherever they get dumped out.”

The Senate is also considering a change to state law that would formally legalize the humane slaughter of horses. That proposed legislation from Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, and Brackett’s memorial are both awaiting full hearings in the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee.

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