The Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee voted 9-0 in favor of HB 1999. The bill would end Oklahoma's 50-year ban on the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
HB 1999 was introduced by Bristow Republican Rep. Skye McNiel, who has come under fire for a conflict of interest caused by her sponsorship of the bill. McNiel's grandparents own a livestock auction house, Mid America Stockyards in Bristow, which could see its business triple if HB 1999 passes. Deepening McNiel's conflict of interest, the auction house is managed by her family.
An advocacy group called Wild Horse Observers Association filed a complaint last month with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission against McNiel.
Under HB 1999, the sale of horse meat still would be illegal in Oklahoma, but the export for sale in other countries would be allowed.
Supporters say it would provide a humane option for unwanted, aging horses in Oklahoma. However animal welfare advocates have fiercely opposed the bill, pointing out that commercial slaughter of horses is neither humane nor necessary, and that the most ardent supporters of the measure are those who stand to profit from its passing.
A recent poll by Oklahoma's KFOR television station showed that 82% of those responding were not in favor of horse slaughter. In spite of those numbers, HB 1999 now heads to the full Senate for consideration and a passing vote.
Animal welfare groups and horse advocates are calling on their Oklahoma supporters to call or email their Senators, and urge them to not pass HB 1999.