Posted on Mon, May. 26, 2003

78th Legislature
Jan. 14-June 2

Staff and Wire Reports

Quote of the day

"Can I request Mr. Seaman's comments be reduced to writing and run through a shredder?"

-- Rep. Brian McCall, R-Plano, deriding a bawdy, pun-filled House floor discussion on insurance coverage for birth control and Viagra.


Bill with horse-meat amendment passes

Texans will be able to barbecue their own horses and serve them alongside Angus steaks in their favorite hometown restaurants under a bill that won final House passage Sunday.

If that sounds similar to legislation that was struggling to survive this weekend, allowing horse-slaughtering plants to sell horse meat for consumption overseas, it is.

And then some.

The idea of eating horses in Texas was floated during a last-ditch effort to save House Bill 1324, co-sponsored by Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, which would have allowed the state's two horse-slaughtering plants, one of which is in Fort Worth, to sell horse meat overseas for human consumption.

That bill was in trouble in the Senate, and so to shake it loose, Rep. Rick Hardcastle, R-Vernon, slipped it quietly onto an unassuming agricultural-code cleanup bill by repealing Chapter 149 of the agriculture code, which has banned consumption of horses in Texas since 1949. His intention is not to allow Texas barbecue joints to serve horse flank with their pinto beans, he said, but to raise the possibility and force a vote.

"They are playing hostage with the bill," Hardcastle later said.

The bill has drawn strong opposition from animal-rights activists -- many of whom fall on both sides of the political aisle.

"The Republican women in my district hate this bill," said Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell.

Rep. Toby Goodman, R-Arlington, who fought hard against the House bill's passage several weeks ago, objected to Hardcastle's surreptitious addition of the amendment and asked the House to reconsider its vote.

"You did pass a bill out of here allowing two existing plants, the only two in the country, to process horse meat, ship it to Europe and Japan so the French and Belgians and the Japanese people can eat it, but there was never a bill passed out of this House to legalize the consumption of horse meat in Texas," Goodman said.

Goodman lost that vote Saturday, 75-42.

On Sunday, when it came time to give final passage to the bill that carried the horse meat amendment, it became clear that Goodman's consternation was contagious. The bill passed, but only by a nine-vote margin.

Uninsured drivers

The Texas House gave preliminary approval Sunday to a bill that its sponsor said attempts to reduce the number of uninsured drivers in Texas.

Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, said at least 20 percent of motorists in Texas are uninsured. Under Senate Bill 422, by Sen. Teel Bivins, R-Amarillo, the Texas Department of Public Safety would randomly choose about 40,000 motorists a month to prove they have auto insurance within 30 days.

The bill increases the fine for driving without insurance by $25.


The Texas House is expected to debate a bill that would make it a crime to injure or kill a fetus.

Compiled from staff and wire reports