(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Gov. Bill Haslam announced Monday that he is vetoing a controversial “ag gag” bill, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.
The bill, which would have required any documentation of animal abuse to be given to law enforcement within 48 hours of being made, was the subject of much debate. The sponsors of the bill, farmers, said that it was to ensure speedy investigations of cruelty to animals and livestock investigations.
However, critics like the Humane Society said that mandating that evidence be given to authorities within 48 hours made it easy for officials to thwart investigations of animal cruelty.
It was not clear what side the governor would take in this debate until his announcement. Haslam said that while he understood the concerns of the farmers, and recognized that sometimes footage obtained into investigations of animal cruelty was obtained under false pretenses, he had to veto the bill.
He quoted a legal opinion from Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper delivered last week, who said that the bill was “constitutionally suspect” given the requirements of the First Amendment. Haslam also mentioned that it seemed to implicitly repeal part of Tennessee’s “shield law,” which protects journalists’ ability to collect information.
He recommended that a new, clearer bill be created.
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