Victory! More ‘Ag-Gag’ Bills Defeated

Published by Michelle Kretzer.

Update: Two more “ag-gag” bills bite the dust! After hearing from thousands of compassionate citizens and receiving a personal appeal from Republican strategist Mary Matalin, Kentucky’s legislature adjourned without passing the dangerous “ag-gag” provision in House Bill 222. The “ag-gag” amendment was added to a formerly pro-animal bill just days after the release of PETA’s shocking investigation into the horse-racing industry. Fortunately, the bill’s sponsor, who designed the original text to ban the use of gas chambers to kill animals at shelters, never called the measure back up for a vote, protecting undercover investigations.

After an outcry from kind citizens, Tennessee’s legislature also removed dangerous “ag-gag” language from Senate bills 2406 and 1892. Last year, Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed a similar bill, which had been called “constitutionally suspect” by the state’s Attorney General’s Office. Once again, undercover investigations are safe in Tennessee.

Originally posted January 24, 2014:

Big Agriculture keeps pushing investigation-stifling “ag gag” bills in numerous states. And animal advocates keep knocking them down. The latest victories are in Indiana and New Hampshire.

The goal of “ag-gag” bills is to make investigations on factory farms a crime. But critics of the bills (pretty much everyone who doesn’t have ties to Big Ag) say that the measures would deprive authorities of the evidence that they need to enforce the law and that the bills violate the First Amendment. That’s why they’re working to get the bills gagged.

Happy Pigs from Rescued Calendar© Susan Riley Photography

In Indiana, Sen. Travis Holdman, who sponsored one such bill, was forced to take out all the ag-gag language from the bill just to get it out of committee, leaving the door wide open for undercover investigations. Last year, Indiana legislators killed a similar bill after GOP members received a video appeal that Republican strategist Mary Matalin shot on PETA’s behalf. Former Indiana resident Tony Kanal of the group No Doubt also sent a letter to legislators, which was widely publicized. And the bill was deemed unconstitutional by the speaker of the house. All those concerns seemed to be still fresh in the legislators’ minds as they weighed the new proposal.

The New Hampshire State House voted down its ag-gag bill this week without even debating it. Last year, an almost identical bill stalled in committee after throngs of PETA supporters responded to our action alert and flooded the legislature with e-mails.

PETA will continue to work to have these bills knocked down wherever they surface. Because if factory farms have nothing to hide, why push so hard to make videotaping their operations illegal?

Mary Matalin, who recently mentioned her work with PETA while promoting her new book, Love & War, on Good Morning America, explains in the video below why undercover investigations are so crucial in exposing and prosecuting abuse.

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— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind