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Janell Cole, Published April 17 2009

ND Legislative notebook: $50,000 OK’d for slaughterhouse study

BISMARCK – Legislators have given final approval to spending $50,000 in state funds to study building a horse slaughter plant in the state.

The House took final action Thursday on House Bill 1496, which passed 86-5.

The $50,000 was appropriated to the state Department of Commerce, which is to determine whether a horse slaughter plant is feasible, what the costs would be of constructing a new plant or converting an existing facility, and how it could be financed.

The final bill creates a check-off system that calls for $5 from each horse slaughtered to be used to pay back the $50,000 study. Once that is paid, income from the check-off would then be split three ways, with the horse study programs at Dickinson State University and North Dakota State University each receiving 40 percent and the final 20 percent going to public or private groups doing equine research or offering “hippotherapy” to persons with disabilities.

In separate voting, the Senate approved a resolution urging Congress to recognize the need for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect and regulate horse-processing facilities.

It is Senate Concurrent Resolution 4021. It passed on a voice vote.

The bill goes to the governor for his signature. The resolution is to be forwarded to Congress.

Day care pilots OK’d

The House on Thursday gave final passage to a bill meant to spur more workers and quality improvement in child care facilities.

House Bill 1418 funds pilot projects, which may use federal child care funds in the federal stimulus bill. The bill passed 77-15 and now goes to the governor for signature.

It calls for the state Human Services Department to provide “training opportunities leading to credentials” and a voluntary quality improvement process for licensed facilities that could create higher reimbursement rates for participating providers.

The program may provide technical assistance and grants to support to people who want to start a new program or expand existing capacity.

“It is a start in trying to do an infrastructure for quality child care, to be there for people, to help with training to help both centers and home-based providers,” said the bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Kathy Hawken, R-Fargo.

Health study killed

The House on Thursday defeated a proposed study of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, sponsored the bill, which passed the Senate 44-3 lat week.

The House voted it down 61-31.

Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. She can be reached at (701) 224-0830 or forumcap@btinet.net