Animal Rights Group Pushes For Veto On 'Ag-Gag' Bill - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Animal Rights Group Pushes For Veto On 'Ag-Gag' Bill

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An animal rights group has started running television commercials asking Governor Bill Haslam to veto a controversial bill on animal cruelty.

The legislation has been dubbed the "Ag-Gag bill." It would make it a crime to not tell police within 24 hours if you photograph or shoot video when you see animal cruelty committed against livestock. The bill would also require the photographer to turn over unedited photographs or video to police.

"This entire bill really stems from our investigation of criminal conduct at horse stables here in Tennessee," said Wayne Pacelle with the Humane Society of the United States.

The group opposes the bill and said it discourages whistleblowers from coming forward. Two years ago, the Humane Society captured video of a well-known Walking Horse trainer abusing a horse.

"The United States Attorney asked up not to release the footage because gathering evidence against a perpetrator sometimes takes months," said Pacelle.

The sponsor of the bill in the House said his intent was to quickly stop animal abuse.

"I don't think an animal that is in an abusive situation should have to wait four, five, or six months before that abuse comes to the attention of law enforcement," said Representative Andy Holt.

Medical groups have said the bill violates the First Amendment and contradicts Tennessee's "Shield Law," which protects reporters from having to reveal their sources.

The bill has passed the Legislature and is awaiting Governor Haslam's signature. He has not decided whether he will sign it.

"We've obviously already gotten a lot of calls and e-mails on it, " said Governor Haslam. "We've got all we need on both sides. I think we understand the issue. I'll be studying it."

Representative Holt said he expected a decision from the Governor in a couple of days, and he believes the Governor will sign the bill. Representative Holt also said the bill is not a reaction to the Humane Society's Walking Horse soring investigation.

Meantime, Representative Gloria Johnson opposes the bill. She believes if the Governor vetoes the bill there aren't enough votes in the House to override it. When it passed in the House, it was just one vote shy of failing.

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