Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Utahan arrested for filming meat plant from public street; Tenn. governor undecided on 'ag-gag' bill

While Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam struggles to decide whether to sign or veto an "ag-gag" bill that would require recordings of animal cruelty be handed over to police within 48 hours, and perhaps interfere with journalism about agriculture, a Utah woman was arrested for filming a slaughterhouse from a public street.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (AP photo by Eric Schelzig)
Haslam said, "At the end of the day it comes back to: Is it good policy? Is it constitutional, and do we think it’s something that will actually help the welfare of animals and livestock?" reports Andy Sher for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Haslam could also allow the bill to become law without his signature, which is something he did with the controversial bill about teaching evolution in public schools, Sher notes. (Read more)

In an editorial, the Knoxville Daily News called for Haslam to veto the bill, saying it not only protects people who commit cruelty to animals by making it harder to gather enough information, but it goes against freedom of press. The law "would conflict with Tennessee’s Shield Law, which prevents authorities from requiring journalists to reveal any information or source of information used in news-gathering," states the editorial. "Tennessee authorities cannot compel anyone engaged in news-gathering to surrender photographs and video images." (Read more)

Amy Meyer and her dog. (Photo by
In February in Draper, Utah, just outside Salt Lake City, Amy Meyer used her cell phone to record images of a cattle slaughterhouse from public property, reports Jim Dalyrmple for the Salt Lake Tribune. After slaughterhouse officials complained, Meyer was questioned by police and let go, but then was arrested under Utah's recently passed ag-gag law, on a charge of committing a Class B misdemeanor. The charge was dropped but she could have faced up to six months in jail, reports.

We also wrote about ag-gag bills here, here and here.

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