As the Hoosier General Assembly moves toward adjournment, as early as today and no later than Monday, recent action taken by the Indiana House Speaker is not looking too favorable for critics of the state’s farm protection legislation, also known as “ag-gag.”
National animal advocacy groups thought that the differing versions of Senate Bill 373 adopted by the Senate and House might kill the bill because it seemed the differences that needed to be resolved would not be overcome in time by a House-Senate conference committee.
As it passed the Senate, the original SB 373 is a classic “ag-gag” bill in that it makes it a crime to shoot video or take pictures of animal abuse on private property without the owner’s permission, or to fail to tell nothing but the truth on a job application. The House stripped these provisions mainly out of concern that such items are likely to be unconstitutional.
Now, according to the Humane Society of the United States’ state lobbyist Matt Dominquez, the provisions the House stripped out are being put back in through the conference committee report. He says Republican State Sen. Travis Holdman, SB 373’s prime sponsor, has insisted on having the bill entirely restored and, for whatever reason, the GOP House Speaker is going along with him.
To accommodate Sen. Holdman, the Speaker removed at least one House Democrat from the conference committee and replaced him with a Republican likely to be more friendly to a hard “ag-gag” bill.
If a conference report gets votes in the House and Senate, it’s also likely to contain a 120-hour deadline for anyone with evidence of animal abuse to provide it to local law enforcement. “At this point,” Dominquez told Food Safety News, “whatever Senator Holdman wants, he is going to get.”
Legislative leaders Thursday were still trying to work out the timing of the end of the session with Republican Gov. Mike Pence.© Food Safety News