Ag-Gag comes back, but pulled during House debate
By Matt Mikus firstname.lastname@example.org April 26, 2013 12:56PM
Rep. B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, looks over his notes as he prepares to speak against a bill on a bill that would ban secret filming on Indiana farms at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Friday, April 26, 2013. The bill was later withdrawn by the chairman.The legislature is meeting is what is expected to be the final day of the session. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Updated: April 26, 2013 7:11PM
INDIANAPOLIS - Legislation called the “Ag-gag” bill returned Thursday, offering even more power for businesses to prevent people from publishing unpopular photographs or video, only to be pulled from the floor of the house Friday.
Senate Bill 373 was amended during a conference meeting Thursday. The bill would have made it a crime to take videos or photos with the intent to harm a business.
The bill passed the Senate a second time with a 29-21 vote, but the House removed the bill from the floor.
When first introduced, the bill focused on agriculture and industry, but was amended in the House to focus on lying on a job application and trespassing on private property, common for animal rights activists who go undercover at a commercial farming organization.
The bill had been extended to all private property owners and even steeper if on a school, research facility, or a public facility.
Taking a picture in secret would have been Class A misdemeanor.
“This has always been about protecting business in the state of Indiana,” said bill author Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle. “We have people who want to go on the property and take secretive photographs or videos, solely for the purpose of doing harm to the business.”
State Rep. Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, said the bill could prevent workers who find unsafe work conditions or illegal activity from informing the press or regulators.
“All they’re trying to do is put fear into those people we call whistleblowers,” Bauer said.
He referenced recent events in West, Texas, where if an employee had noticed an issue at the fertilizer plant and turned it in to the press, it would be considered a crime, even if it could have saved lives.
The bill did not return for another vote.