In a 30-to-20 vote, the Indiana Senate passed Senate Bill (SB)-0373, making it unlawful to photograph or make a video recording or motion picture of agriculture operations without the written consent of the owner.
And “ag-gag” bills have been introduced in at least three additional states.
In Pennsylvania, the General Assembly has referred House Bill (HB)-683 to the House Judiciary Committee. The bill would make interfering with agricultural operations and offense.
Companion measures SB-1248 and HB-1191 were introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly. Both bills require anyone who records cruelty to animals to submit unedited photographs or video recordings to law enforcement within 24 hours. The bills have been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and House Committee on Agriculture.
In the New Mexico Senate, the “Livestock Operation Inference Act,” SB-552, was assigned to both the judicial and conservation committees. In California, Assembly Bill (AB)-343 has been reported by some as an “ag-gag” bill, but as introduced it may be more limited in scope.
Before it passed the Hoosier State Senate, Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Indianapolis) amended the bill to exempt anyone who turns over the video or photos to law enforcement within 48 hours from prosecution. However, the exemption is lost if the material is shared with a party outside of law enforcement, like a newspaper or television station.
With the vote, the Indiana Senate joined the Wyoming House in putting a so-called “ag-gag” bill just one vote away from being on their governor’s desks for signature.
In Wyoming, libertarian Republican Sue Wallis won a 33-to-27 vote in the House more than two weeks ago for her farm and ranch protection bill. The Wyoming measure is similar to Indiana’s.
House Bill (HB)-0126 is up against the clock in Laramie. It was referred out of committee on a 5-to-4 vote, but adjournment is coming shortly for Wyoming’s legislature, so time for a floor vote is limited.
Much more time for a vote exists in the Indiana House, as the Hoosier General Assembly is in business until at least April 29. SB-0391, a measure similar to SB-0373 appears to have been dropped.
While at this point it appears that Wyoming and Indiana might join the six states that already have “ag-gag” laws on the books, attempts are continuing in three other states.
In Arkansas, where adjournment is scheduled for March 14, two bills had to be withdrawn from committee and then re-referred when a sponsor dropped out. SB 13, limiting animal cruelty investigations to law enforcement and SB-14, creating an interference with livestock or poultry offense, are both back in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and may be running out the clock.
In New Hampshire, HB-110 has been held in committee, effectively killing it for this legislative session. “Ag-gag” in New Hampshire ran just few words, requiring prompt reporting of animal abuse.
Finally, the Nebraska Unicameral has sent Legislative Bill (LB)-204 to the Judiciary Committee, which plans to conduct public hearings on March 14, 2013. LB-204 has picked up a couple of new sponsors. The hearing will probably tell whether the powerful Cornhusker farm lobby plans to get behind the bill.© Food Safety News