Animal protection bill vetoed

May 17, 2013

Tennessee’s Republican governor, Bill Haslam, has vetoed state legislation that would have made it illegal for animal rights activists to sit on any videos that potentially exposed animal abuse. The bill would have required any videos obtained to be reported to law enforcement within 48 hours, along with handing over the entire, unedited photographs or videos.

The heated debate over the legislation was heavily publicized after Tennessee celebrities such as Priscilla Presley, Carrie Underwood and Emmylou Harris challenged Haslam to veto the bill.

Haslam released the following statement explaining his veto decision:

“Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Tennessee. Farmers play a vital role in our state’s economy, heritage and history. I understand their concerns about large-scale attacks on their livelihoods. I also appreciate that the types of recordings this bill targets may be obtained at times under false pretenses, which I think is wrong,” Haslam said.

“Our office has spent a great deal of time considering this legislation. We’ve had a lot of input from people on all sides of the issue. After careful consideration, I am going to veto the legislation. Some vetoes are made solely on policy grounds. Other vetoes may be the result of wanting the General Assembly to recon sider the legislation for a number of reasons. My veto here is more along the lines of the latter. I have a number of concerns.

“First, the Attorney General says the law is constitutionally suspect. Second, it appears to repeal parts of Tennessee’s Shield Law without saying so. If that is the case, it should say so. Third, there are concerns from some district attorneys that the act actually makes it more difficult to prosecute animal cruelty cases, which would be an unintended consequence.

“For these reasons, I am vetoing HB1191/SB1248, and I respectfully encourage the General Assembly to reconsider this issue.” — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor