With the exception of some legislators, most everyone else in Tennessee realized the “ag gag” bill (SB1148/HB1191) sent to Gov. Bill Haslam earlier this month was not a good bill. The legislation’s intent was to allow factory farms to get away with abusing livestock.
A large number of people and organizations lobbied against these bills as they made their way through the legislature. Hundreds of telephone calls and emails to the governor’s office asked him to veto the bill.
State Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Lebanon, said the law would intimidate and even punish those who seek to discover if a crime has been committed against animals or the animal industry workers. Many letters to the editor against the bill appeared in the Johnson City Press.
Editorials against ag gag appeared across the state: Mountain Press in Sevier County called the bill “dangerous, ill-conceived and a shoddy piece of legislation.” The Paris Post-Intelligencer’s editor called it a “bad act.” An editorial in The Tennessean pointed out that it is becoming more clear each session that Tennessee’s Republican-dominated General Assembly is intent on protecting abusive businesses while punishing whistle blowers, journalists, and in this case, animals.
The Johnson City Press spoke out against this legislation more than once, and also kept its readers well-informed about the intent and the progress of this bill.
Animal advocates thank Haslam for vetoing this bill. As we breathe a sigh of relief (for the moment), we need to realize it is nearly certain it will be brought up again when the legislature reconvenes.
With that in mind, local animal advocates should remember that local state Reps. Matthew Hill, Timothy Hill, Micah Van Huss and Tony Shipley supported the ag gag bill. We need to make sure they fully understand that as voters, we oppose this type of law.
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