Governor Haslam Vetoes 'Ag Gag' Bill - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Governor Haslam Vetoes 'Ag Gag' Bill

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Governor Bill Haslam has vetoed a bill that would require images documenting animal abuse to be turned over to law enforcement within 48 hours.

In a statement released Monday morning, he said his office has carefully considered the bill, but decided to veto it due to "a number of concerns."

First was the State Attorney General's opinion that the measure would be "constitutionally suspect" because it could violate Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination and for placing burdens on news collection. Second was that it appeared to repeal parts of Tennessee's Shield Law without saying so. His third was concerns from some district attorneys that the act actually makes it more difficult to prosecute animal cruelty cases, which would be an unintended consequence.

"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 in the statement.

Haslam also asked the General Assembly to reconsider the issue. The bill easily passed the Senate, but gained just 50 votes in the House -- the bare minimum needed to clear the chamber.

Animal protection groups said the measure they have dubbed the "ag gag" bill is designed to prevent whistleblowers from collecting evidence of ongoing patterns of abuse.

The veto is Haslam's second since he took office in 2010.

(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)

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