The North Carolina bill giving animal agriculture a civil cause of action against activists who enter closed areas of private property without permission was vetoed Friday by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. In his veto message, McCrory said this about House Bill 405: “This bill is intended to address a valid concern of our state’s businesses — how to discourage those bad actors who seek employment with the intent to engage in corporate espionage or act as an undercover investigator. This practice is unethical and unfair to employers, and is a particular problem for our agricultural industry. It needs to be stopped. “While I support the purpose of this bill, I believe it does not adequately protect or give clear guidance to honest employees who uncover criminal activity. I am concerned that subjecting these employees to potential civil penalties will create an environment that discourages them from reporting illegal activities. “Earlier this week, I was proud to sign Burt’s Law. It requires adult care home employees who witness sexual abuse of patients to report it to the proper authorities. I signed Burt’s Law because it protects a vulnerable population and gives clear direction to employees to report any abuse they witness. I don’t want to discourage good employees of any industry from reporting illegal activities to the proper authorities, which is why I am vetoing House Bill 405. In good conscience, I cannot sign Burt’s Law and then in the same week turn around and sign contradictory legislation. “I encourage the General Assembly to reconsider this bill as soon as possible and add protections for those employees who report illegal activities directly and confidentially to the proper authorities. I stand ready to work with legislators during this process, and I am very optimistic that we can reach a solution that addresses the concerns of our North Carolina employers while still protecting honest employees.” North Carolina’s use of civil law to discourage animal activists from going undercover would be a first. So-called “ag-gag” laws in other states are typically based on criminal law and carry lengthy jail times and stiff fines for convicted offenders. Such laws in Utah and Idaho are currently being challenged in federal courts.