Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has longer to decide whether to sign the state’s “ag-gag” bill than Food Safety News originally reported. If signed, the bill will make it a crime to record animal cruelty unless the material is quickly turned over to local law enforcement.
In Tennessee, the Executive’s decision on whether to sign or veto a bill must be made within ten days from when it arrives on his desk, excluding Sundays. The latest status report for Senate Bill 1248/House Bill 1191 had been “enrolled and ready for signatures,” which Food Safety News interpreted to mean the bill was on Haslam’s desk, while in fact other signatures must be collected before the Governor’s.
The missing signatures were those of the House’s and Senate’s presiding officers, which were not added until yesterday (May 1). That means today is probably the earliest the animal cruelty and abuse law would actually get to the Governor’s desk, giving Haslam until at least May 14 or 15 to make a decision.
There is a spirited campaign underway in the Volunteer State to persuade Haslam on the issue. As for his decision, the Governor told Tennessee reporters after an unrelated event that he is “wrestling” with the decision.
“At the end of the day it comes back to is it good policy? Is it constitutional, and do we think it’s something that will actually help the welfare of animals and livestock?” he asked.
Because they fear it would quash undercover investigations and silence whistleblowers, animal activists call the bill an “ag-gag” measure. The Tennessee bill is the only one of its kind to reach a governor’s desk during this legislative season. Last year Utah, Iowa and Missouri passed similar “ag-gag” laws.
Food Safety News originally reported Haslam’s deadline for HB 1248/HB 1191 would come this weekend.© Food Safety News