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Governor Haslam Vetos "Ag-Gag" Bill



Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam vetoed the "Ag-Gag" bill that recently passed both the House and Senate.  The legislation would have required video footage of animal abuse to be turned over to law enforcement within 48 hours of the witness of the abuse.  Governor Haslam cited constitutionality concerns as the reason for his veto.

The Humane Society of the United States along with several celebrities, including Carrie Underwood, had lobbied Haslam to exercise his veto of the legislation.  The Governor's office said they received over 5,000 phone calls and 16,000 emails on the legislation, mostly in opposition to the bill.

Governor Haslam released the following statement:
"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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