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Wyoming House Passes “Ag-Gag” for Farm & Ranch Protection

Just before she had to go Laramie for the Wyoming Legislature’s two month session, libertarian Republican Sue Wallis had to bury her husband of 19 years, cowboy poet Rod McQueary.

But the Recluse rancher has not slowed her pace. She was one of the most passionate advocates of a domestic partnership bill for the Cowboy State. While falling short there, other bills bearing her name are doing better.

House Bill (HB)-0126, the Wallis bill on interference with agriculture, passed the Wyoming House on a 33 to 27 vote. Depending upon one’s view, HB-0126 is either an anti-whistleblower ag-gag bill or it’s a farm protection measure.

Wyoming is one of five states known to have such measures under active consideration by state lawmakers. The other four are New Hampshire, Indiana, Nebraska and Arkansas.

After it passed the House, the Wallis bill was assigned for review to the Senate Agriculture. It is co-sponsored by Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devil’s Tower, who is also a rancher.

The Wyoming Legislative session is scheduled to end in early March. If HB-0126 gains Senate approval, it will next require the signature of Republican Matt Mead to become law.

In her bill, Wallis makes it a crime to “knowingly or intentionally” record images or sounds of an agricultural operation with concealed devices without the consent of the owner. Six months in jail and a $750 fine are provided as penalty. But anyone reporting animal abuse to local police within 48 hours is immune from civil liability.

Last year ten states considered similar bills and three, Iowa, Utah, and Missouri, enacted them into law. The four other states this year are not moving as quickly as Wyoming.

New Hampshire – HB 110 remains in the House Environment and Agriculture Committee, where it was briefly heard on Jan. 15.

Indiana – Two bills have been introduced, SB-0373 and SB-0391, that while nearly identical were referred to separate committees. Both would make it a crime to enter agricultural or industrial property and take a picture or video recording of the property or operations without consent of the owner. The Agriculture Committee is reviewing SB-0391, and Criminal Law heard SB-0373 this week.

Nebraska – Legislative Bill-204 has picked up a couple more sponsors, but continues to wait for consideration in the Judiciary Committee.

Arkansas – The Senate Committee on Judiciary Wednesday opted to defer action on both SB-13, limiting animal cruelty investigations to official law enforcement, and SB-14, creating an interference with livestock and poultry offense. Unless and until heard by the committee, the two bills are in limbo.

© Food Safety News
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=589983950 Kelly Blevins

    Whats the problem ?? The only reason they are doing this is because they know they are abusing the animals and they dont want people to see the filthy conditions they are raised in. The AG Dept. Is disgusting for even considering to push such a communist like Bill through. These investigations have exposed numerous illegal activities by these greed ridden places. Its beneficial to the consumers to have people who are willing to go in and get this evidence. Does The Dept. Of Ag. have something to hide ? Obviously they do. American citizens have the right to know what goes on in these places. This Gag Bill is purely to protect these farmers from being shut down over filthy conditions and abuse. I guess the joke will be on them because no one who wants to expose them will care about such a communist Bill.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

    All it will take is one prosecution under the Wyoming bill to have it tossed as a violation of Constitutional rights. Which is probably also why no prosecutor will ever prosecute anyone under this bill. 

    The same applies to every other ag-gag law. 

    There is no other industry receiving this type of protection. What do the farms in these states have to hide?

  • VTChick

    New Hampshire HB110 is NOT an ag-gag bill. It is exactly the opposite! It reads: AN ACT requiring persons who record cruelty to livestock to report such cruelty and submit such recordings to a law enforcement agency.

    VI. Any person who records any activity that falls under paragraph III as committed against livestock shall have a duty to report such activities to law enforcement authorities and shall submit any unedited photographs or video recordings to the law enforcement authorities within 24 hours of the recording’s creation.

  • comedyflyer

    You will never know what you are eating if you live in Wyoming! Just look at the horse meat scandal in Europe, England….no controls…without the whistle -blowers the toxic meat would still be available in many prepared foods without the consumers knowing…yikes…

  • http://www.facebook.com/carol.southam.1 Carol Southam

    Sad news for animal rights.