Iowa rewriting undercover livestock video bill | TSLN.com
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Iowa rewriting undercover livestock video bill

Iowa state senators, trying to impose the nation’s toughest legislation restricting undercover operations by animal rights activists, recently introduced a massive rewrite in an effort to meet concerns that a version passed by the House is unconstitutional.

The Iowa attorney general’s office told senators the House bill would most likely face constitutional challenges because of provisions that would have made it illegal to possess or distribute audio or video recordings. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled that films exposing animal cruelty represent the exercise of free speech.

The bill has attracted national attention. Farmers say the legislation is needed to protect the state’s agricultural economy against activists who deliberately cast their operations in a negative light and continue videotaping rather than reporting abuse immediately.

The new Senate version scraps trying to establish new offenses of fraud to prohibit animal advocates from obtaining access to livestock facilities by false pretenses. Instead, the legislation beefs up language regarding trespassing, making it a crime to enter or remain at an agricultural operation or to have a recording device at such operations without express permission.

A spokesman for the attorney general and an agricultural law professor from Iowa State University say the new version will pass possible constitutional challenges.

The new legislation would require employees or people who trespass on agriculture premises and record a crime of animal abuse to turn over to authorities all recordings – both originals and copies – within 72 hours. If they fail to do so, they could not claim whistle-blower protections and would face possible criminal charges resulting in up to 30 days in jail.

Iowa state senators, trying to impose the nation’s toughest legislation restricting undercover operations by animal rights activists, recently introduced a massive rewrite in an effort to meet concerns that a version passed by the House is unconstitutional.

The Iowa attorney general’s office told senators the House bill would most likely face constitutional challenges because of provisions that would have made it illegal to possess or distribute audio or video recordings. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled that films exposing animal cruelty represent the exercise of free speech.

The bill has attracted national attention. Farmers say the legislation is needed to protect the state’s agricultural economy against activists who deliberately cast their operations in a negative light and continue videotaping rather than reporting abuse immediately.

The new Senate version scraps trying to establish new offenses of fraud to prohibit animal advocates from obtaining access to livestock facilities by false pretenses. Instead, the legislation beefs up language regarding trespassing, making it a crime to enter or remain at an agricultural operation or to have a recording device at such operations without express permission.

A spokesman for the attorney general and an agricultural law professor from Iowa State University say the new version will pass possible constitutional challenges.

The new legislation would require employees or people who trespass on agriculture premises and record a crime of animal abuse to turn over to authorities all recordings – both originals and copies – within 72 hours. If they fail to do so, they could not claim whistle-blower protections and would face possible criminal charges resulting in up to 30 days in jail.


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