Bill to jail abuse-filming animal activists passes Idaho House

Bill to jail abuse-filming animal activists passes Idaho House

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by Associated Press & KTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on February 26, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 26 at 7:00 PM

BOISE -- A bill to punish people who secretly film animal abuse at Idaho's agricultural facilities is headed to Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter's desk after passing the House 56-14.

It's a response to videos released by activists who filmed workers at Bettencourt Dairy beating, stomping, and sexually abusing cows.

If Otter signs the bill into law, people who try to record such abuse face up to a year in jail--double the maximum punishment for animal cruelty.

Utah has a similar "ag gag law," currently being challenged in U.S. District Court.

Backers say they want to protect farmers from activists with agendas who sneaking onto their property.

Opponents argue pulling the curtain over one industry makes Idaho look like it has something to hide, and will make it tougher to prove abuse.

Just before the bill passed the House, animal activists dropped off boxes of signatures on a petition asking Gov. Butch Otter to veto the bill.

Boise resident Elham Marder was there today helping take the petition to the governor's office. She said they have more than 113,000 signatures from people opposed to Senate Bill 1337.

Those signatures were gathered by Mercy for Animals and reached out nationwide.

Marder says the legislation is a violation of the First Amendment, taking away the right to free speech by prosecuting anyone caught videotaping on agriculture facilities.

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