Published: May 29, 2004

Local News: Springfield
House rejects slaughter bill
Cavel International Inc. plans to reopen its horse slaughterhouse soon.

By ANTHONY WATT, Register Star Springfield Bureau

SPRINGFIELD -- The House voted Friday against legislation that would prevent a DeKalb plant that slaughters horses for human food from reopening.

James Tucker, the general manager of the plant, which is being rebuilt after a fire, said he was happy to hear it.

"I think the Legislature realized it was an ill-considered law that would have a negative effect on the state and on horses," he said.

If the measure became law, it would ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

The plant, owned by Cavel International Inc., is expected to open in the next few weeks or even days, Tucker said. The original plant burned down about two years ago. When fully operational, the new plant will employ 40 people.

Cavel, a Belgian company, intends to export the meat for human consumption in countries like Belgium and Japan.

"The Legislature has spoken," said Rep. Bob Molaro, D-Chicago, who sponsored the bill in the House. "They don't have a will to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption."

The measure was in the form of a Senate amendment to a bill that originated in the House. The House was voting on whether or not it agreed with the change the other chamber made.

The bill will now go back to the Senate, which must decide whether it will challenge the House's decision. If it does not, the bill will go to Gov. Rod Blagojevich without the horse-slaughter language. Blagojevich must sign legislation that has passed both chambers of the General Assembly before it becomes law.

If the Senate decides to stand by the amendment, the two chambers would have a conference committee to iron out their differences before the legislation could move forward.

Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate, said he intends to ask for a conference committee.

"This is too important of an issue to abandon at this time," he said.

Cullerton said he has had an overwhelming response from people in his district on the issue. He said people who contacted him viewed horses more as pets than as livestock.

But Molaro said he believes the chances of some form of the legislation being resurrected in conference committee are slim.

"We're deep in the homestretch and 20 lengths behind; I think the race is basically over," he said.

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