Tennessee Governor Will Veto “Ag-Gag” Bill

Activist Post

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced today that he intends to veto a bill that would require photos or video of animal abuse be turned it in to law enforcement within 48 hours or the photographer can be fined up to $500.

The bill HB 1191/SB 1248 passed the General Assembly this session and would go into effect July 1st if Haslam signed it into law.

Instead, Haslam is so concerned that the law would make it more difficult to prosecute genuine animal abuse cases, which of course is what it’s intended to do, that he’s decided to veto the measure.

Haslam’s decision is also influenced by the Tennessee’s attorney general’s office who called the bill “Constitutionally suspect”.

“Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Tennessee. Farmers play a vital role in our state’s economy, heritage and history. I understand their concerns about large scale attacks on their livelihoods. I also appreciate that the types of recordings this bill targets may be obtained at times under false pretenses, which I think is wrong,” Haslam said.

“Our office has spent a great deal of time considering this legislation. We’ve had a lot of input from people on all sides of the issue. After careful consideration, I am going to veto the legislation. Some vetoes are made solely on policy grounds. Other vetoes may be the result of wanting the General Assembly to reconsider the legislation for a number of reasons. My veto here is more along the lines of the latter. I have a number of concerns.

First, the Attorney General says the law is constitutionally suspect. 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.

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

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