The Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill April 18 that would outlaw horse slaughter for human consumption.
Illinois is home to one of three slaughter plants in the country. The bill, which passed 74-41, would permanently shut down the plant located in DeKalb. A similar bill was introduced, but defeated in 2004. Both times it was supported by actress and animal-rights activist Bo Derek.
The bill now heads to the Illinois Senate. However, due to recent federal rulings, the law may end up being symbolic. In March, a federal district court ordered the shut-down of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that allowed the slaughter of American horses for human consumption to be paid for by the slaughter houses. As a result, the Illinois plant and the two plants located in Texas have been shut down. Additionally in Texas, a 1949 state law banning the sale of horsemeat for human consumption was upheld by the entire 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals March 5.
In January, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate simultaneously introduced the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which would prohibit horse slaughter for human consumption. In 2006, the bill passed the House by a vote of 263-146, but was not acted upon by the Senate before it adjourned for the year.