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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Ind. Law - "Ag Gag" bill is on a fast track, being heard in committee today

Today is the first day of the 2014 session and this year's version of the "ag gag" bill, SB 101, is on the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law agenda.

Tom LoBianco points that out today in his good AP story headed "5 things to know about Indiana legislative session." Under the subheading "Look Sharp" he writes:

The abbreviated timetable [in the short session] also means issues will rise and fall faster than they do during longer budget-writing sessions. Hot-button issues could get quick treatment from committees and the two chambers.

One example is a measure cracking down on filming farm operations, dubbed the "Ag Gag" bill by opponents.

LoBiancco points to past effectiveness of this tactic:
An effective ban on a Lafayette abortion clinic was filed during the 2013 session and an effort to ban specialty license plates for and Indianapolis gay youth support group was pursued through amendments during the 2012 session.
Tony Cook writes reports this afternoon in the Indianapolis Star:
A new version of the so-called “ag gag” bill that limits videotaping and photography of farm activities is scheduled to be heard in a state Senate committee today, prompting outcry from opponents.

The bill would allow agricultural businesses to post a sign listing prohibited activities that could comprimise the business’s trade secrets or operations. Violators would face a level 6 felony, which carries a punishment of six to 30 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The bill also would expand the state’s criminal trespass law to include not only dwellings, but all real property.

The bill’s author, Sen. Travis Holdman, introduced a similar, hotly debated bill last year, but it failed in the final hours of the session.

Critics say the new bill is actually worse than last year’s, which would have prohibited unapproved videos and photographs of farms.

“This gives a blank check to industrial agricultural facilities to essentially define what a felony is,” said Matthew Dominguez, a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States, an animal welfare group.

His group and others argue that the measure would make criminals out of whistleblowers who expose the truth about unethical agricultural practices.

Holdman, R-Markle, was driving to the Statehouse on icy roads and wasn’t immediately available for comment this afternoon.

The measure is scheduled for a hearing immediately following the opening meetings of the 2014 session of the General Assembly today at 3:30 p.m.

Blogger/attorney Doug Masson pointed out in this post:
SB 101, introduced by Sen. Holdman – apparently a “Son of Ag-Gag” bill – would allow agricultural operations to define their own felonies. [The bill provides "An agricultural operation (as defined in IC 32-30-6-1) may conspicuously post a notice at the agricultural operation’s locations that lists prohibited acts that may compromise the agricultural operation’s trade secrets or operations."] There is no standard or review for what acts the agricultural operation can list on its notice. If they list it and you do it; you’re a felon!
And a tweet from earlier today:
Bob Segall
‏@BobSegallWTHR
ISP: "Traveling dangerous." Hey @INSenateGOP & @INSenDems, why not resked PUBLIC hearings today so PUBLIC can actually participate--safely?
[More] Here is a list of some earlier ILB "Ag Gag" posts.

[Still more]
Niki Kelly
‏@nkellyatJG 4m
Senate set on ramming ag gag bill through tonight regardless of public participation or not.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 7, 2014 03:05 PM
Posted to Environment | Indiana Law