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2013 Legislative Season Ends with ‘Ag-Gag’ Bills Defeated in 11 States

It took a time-killing debate in the Indiana General Assembly and a game-changing veto by Gov. Bill Haslam in Tennessee. And only when North Carolina’s Legislature adjourned for the year last Friday could animal welfare groups say they had defeated ag-gag everywhere it had a chance of becoming law.

All the so-called ag-gag bills — designed to prevent undercover activists from documenting activities at animal facilities — that were seriously considered by lawmakers in 11 states this year are dead. North Carolina’s adjournment put a period on a 2013 legislative season that failed to produce even one victory for animal agriculture interests.

Ag-gag bills, as defined by animal activist groups, typically ban photography and video on private property, make it crime to apply for a job under “false pretenses” and require quick reporting of documented animal abuse.

Six states have adopted ag-gag laws since 1990. Three of those came in 2012 when Iowa, Utah and Missouri adopted them. 

North Dakota, Montana and Kansas were first to adopt such provisions into law back in 1990-91.

Several animal activist groups routinely work with undercover operatives who go about the country obtaining employment at animal agriculture facilities and then secretly recording mistreatment of animals. Groups like the Humane Society of the United States( HSUS), Mercy for Animals, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) say ag-gag bills suppress their whistleblower activities, which often result in criminal convictions for animal cruelty.

This legislative season, the animal groups enlisted a broader coalition of interests against the bill, from country stars in Tennessee to journalistic organizations in Washington D.C. In the end, they’d killed bills in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming,

In a statement, ASPCA said 70 civil liberties, environmental, prosecution, First Amendment, labor and even some farming groups had signed the opposition statement to the state bills. Polling conducted last year showed 71 percent of Americans supported the undercover work by animal welfare groups to expose animal abuse, and 64 percent opposed making such efforts illegal.

In addition to blocking more state ag-gag laws, animal welfare groups have filed a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of Utah’s law. As best as anyone knows, the Utah law is the only ag-gag measure ever used to prosecute someone.

Last spring, Utah resident Amy Meyer was charged under the Utah ag-gag law for using her cell phone to videotape alleged animal abuse occurring at a slaughterhouse The case, however, was dismissed without prejudice after it was established that she was on public property at the time.

“Ag-gag legislation threatens a wide array of public interests—including animal welfare and food safety—by silencing the very people in a position to document abuse,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “We hope the defeat of these 11 bills encourages lawmakers to shift their focus toward achieving accountability for those who are inflicting abuse on animals and putting consumers at risk instead of focusing on misleading efforts to suppress whistleblowers who want to expose those problems.”

© Food Safety News
  • Gómez V LuzMaria

    There is hope for humanity!! Never ever give up!

  • froglips7846

    great news…..does this mean the king amendment is dead?????

  • Mary Manning

    Old World Slaughter House mentality and the Old World Low Consciousness carnivorous activities of sleeping humanity is coming to an end! Every act of cruelty should be made public and the slaughter house owners made to stand in public in the truth of what they are and how they make a living for themselves and their family.

    How about introducing the GLASS WALL ACT!!!??? Why hide the autrocities? Transparency and Freedom of Information is essential information that should be presented to all humans who engage in carnivorous activities. The owners of slaughterhouses and the killers who work in the slaughterhouses are proud of what they do and their activities should be made public for their own glory, benefit, family honor and dignity. THE GLASS WALL ACT could be enacted in the public interest and welfare so that the public can be given notice and be fully informed of the outragous suffering inflicted on the holy innocents by subhuman sadists before Americans mindlessly eat the flesh of a loving, harmless, defenseless animal.

  • Louisa

    I’m in NH, getting ready to contact my State Reps re: the ag-gag bill, and found this site as I was searching for the list of states that have defeated this bill. I see you have NH on this list. The NH Dept of Environment & Agriculture voted in favor of this bill in Sept or October, and it will be voted on by the full House sometime in the first 2 weeks of January.