Haslam vetoes "Ag-Gag" bill

Haslam vetoes "Ag-Gag" bill

Posted:
"The easier we can make it for people to come forward and report, the more lives we can save," Assistant Executive Director for Horse Haven of Tennessee, Sonja Cowsert said. "The easier we can make it for people to come forward and report, the more lives we can save," Assistant Executive Director for Horse Haven of Tennessee, Sonja Cowsert said.
"I just felt like if there was something that could be done that could help alert authorities of the abuse in a quicker fashion then that would be a good thing," State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey (R) Knoxville said. "I just felt like if there was something that could be done that could help alert authorities of the abuse in a quicker fashion then that would be a good thing," State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey (R) Knoxville said.
The bill would require whistleblowers to turn over video evidence of animal cruelty to authorities within 48 hours of the crime or risk being charged with a crime themselves. The bill would require whistleblowers to turn over video evidence of animal cruelty to authorities within 48 hours of the crime or risk being charged with a crime themselves.

NASHVILLE (WATE) - Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed the so-called "Ag-Gag" bill on Monday, ending weeks of debate about videotaping animal cruelty.

The bill would require whistleblowers to turn over video evidence of animal cruelty to authorities within 48 hours of the crime or risk being charged with a crime themselves.

Animal protection groups have come out strong against the bill, even pulling in support from celebrities like Carrie Underwood and Priscilla Presley.

The groups said the bill would unfairly punish those trying to protect animals.

Opponents said it allows animal groups to release video years after the incidents occurred, unfairly harming agricultural industries.

Some groups argue that the law would have allowed animal abuse to be investigated as soon as it is uncovered, potentially saving other animals from abuse.

In his announcement on Monday, Haslam said his decision to veto the bill came after lengthy consideration. The governor said he had a number of concerns about the bill.

"First, the Attorney General says the law is constitutionally suspect," Gov. Haslam said.

Attorney General Bob Cooper said last week that he was concerned about the law because it could put an unconstitutional burden on newsgathering and could be held to violate a person's right against self-incrimination.

"Second, it appears to repeal parts of Tennessee's Shield Law without saying so. If that is the case, it should say so.  Third, there are concerns from some district attorneys that the act actually makes it more difficult to prosecute animal cruelty cases, which would be an unintended consequence," Haslam said in a news release.

"For these reasons, I am vetoing HB1191/SB1248, and I respectfully encourage the General Assembly to reconsider this issue," Haslam concluded.

"We're just thrilled," Assistant Executive Director for Horse Haven of Tennessee, Sonja Cowsert said. "The easier we can make it for people to come forward and report, the more lives we can save."

But lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill told 6 News they believed it would have helped law enforcement in animal cruelty investigations.

"I just felt like if there was something that could be done that could help alert authorities of the abuse in a quicker fashion then that would be a good thing," State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey (R) Knoxville said.

A spokesperson for Haslam's office, David Smith, told 6 News he received more than 5,100 phone calls about the bill with more than 4,800 of those calls opposing the bill.

Smith said Haslam's office also received 16,484 emails about the bill.

Powered by WorldNow

1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
Tennessee 37917

Telephone: 865.637.NEWS(6397)
Fax: 865.525.4091
Email: newsroom@wate.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. A Media General Company.