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Indiana Lawmakers Went Home this AM Without “Ag-Gag”

The Indiana General Assembly early this morning adjourned for the year without passing any version of a proposed “ag-gag” law, including a tougher version that was favored by the Senate.

When Senate Bill 373 passed in the Senate again Friday on a 29-to-21 vote, the measure went over to House. In the House debate that followed for about 45 minutes, Democrats claimed the more sweeping Senate adopted bill was now a “gag all” bill that went beyond just farm protection.

The time-killing debate turned out to be the final straw for the Indiana House Speaker Brian C. Bosma, who then pulled the bill from the last day’s calendar without allowing another vote on the House floor. He said he wanted to force the Senate to vote on the milder House version of the proposed law.

But shortly after 8 p.m. Friday, Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R- Fort Wayne, announced the upper chamber would be taking no more votes on “ag-gag” in 2013. His announcement made it official, “ag-gag” was dead for the year.

Ultimately, it was the Senate over-reach that killed “ag-gag” in Indiana this year. When members of the House could seriously question whether the bill as passed by the Senate would make it illegal for someone to text damaging information about a restaurant or nursing home, the bill was dead.

The Assembly-adopted version stuck to making it a crime to lie on a job application and re-defining criminal trespass to include crossing a fence or barrier that clearly implies entry is prohibited.

The down-to-the-wire defeat of SB 373 was a big victory for national animal activist groups.

Typical of the reaction was a statement from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) that said “the harmful anti-whistleblower/”ag-gag” bill that would have suppressed whistleblowers and protected animal abusers instead of working to prevent such mistreatment. The bill would have also delivered an attack on core American values including food safety, environmental protection and workers’ rights.”

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