Iowa Senate Ag panel OKs ban on undercover farm videos | TSLN.com

Iowa Senate Ag panel OKs ban on undercover farm videos

The Iowa Senate Ag Committee approved a bill Wednesday, March 30, aimed at preventing animal rights activists from getting hired on farms to secretly record what they believe is the mistreatment of livestock. The Iowa House approved the measure, 65-17, on March 17.

The bill would make it illegal to secretly record and distribute videos and punish those who take jobs on farms only to gain access to record animals’ treatment. Penalties include up to five years in prison and fines of up to $7,500. Critics say it would have a chilling effect on free speech and the question of whether it is constitutional could be challenged in court, something that could prove expensive for the state

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Tom Rielly, agreed the bill needs more work before it goes to the full Senate for a vote. But Rielly said he still believes the bill is necessary to prevent animal cruelty. Some animal rights groups film abuse of livestock without reporting it and then use it to gain publicity, he said.

“If somebody is truly a whistle-blower they need to blow the whistle, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Rielly said. “If somebody is in an egg-laying facility and they see an animal that’s in distress or being abused in some way they need to get that reported. And the fact is, I’ve read several stories where just the opposite has occurred. They’re filming it, they’re making videos, they’re not reporting the abuse and six weeks later it’s being used for fundraising.”

The Iowa Senate Ag Committee approved a bill Wednesday, March 30, aimed at preventing animal rights activists from getting hired on farms to secretly record what they believe is the mistreatment of livestock. The Iowa House approved the measure, 65-17, on March 17.

The bill would make it illegal to secretly record and distribute videos and punish those who take jobs on farms only to gain access to record animals’ treatment. Penalties include up to five years in prison and fines of up to $7,500. Critics say it would have a chilling effect on free speech and the question of whether it is constitutional could be challenged in court, something that could prove expensive for the state

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The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Tom Rielly, agreed the bill needs more work before it goes to the full Senate for a vote. But Rielly said he still believes the bill is necessary to prevent animal cruelty. Some animal rights groups film abuse of livestock without reporting it and then use it to gain publicity, he said.

“If somebody is truly a whistle-blower they need to blow the whistle, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Rielly said. “If somebody is in an egg-laying facility and they see an animal that’s in distress or being abused in some way they need to get that reported. And the fact is, I’ve read several stories where just the opposite has occurred. They’re filming it, they’re making videos, they’re not reporting the abuse and six weeks later it’s being used for fundraising.”

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