Tennessee governor vetoes ag gag bill

Published on: May 13, 2013

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has vetoed legislation that would have required anyone who films or photographs animal cruelty to report the incident and submit the images to law enforcement authorities within 48 hours.

The bill passed both the Tennessee House and Senate, passing in the House by one vote, but Haslam vetoed the bill May 13 on concerns over its constitutionality.

His attorney general, Bob Cooper, had earlier issued a legal opinion that the bill was "constitutionally suspect" as a violation of the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination.

The bill was aggressively opposed by a number of animal activist groups and other personalities, including country music singer Carrie Underwood. They have maintained that such laws, which have been dubbed "ag gag" laws, would prevent animal activists from recording secret videos of animal abuse on livestock and poultry farms.

Supporters have said those videos are edited so heavily that they can misrepresent animal treatment and, where there is abuse, perpetuate continued mistreatment for days or weeks until the videos are released.

A bill similar to the Tennessee legislation failed recently to win approval in the Indiana legislature.