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Lawmakers Place “Ag-gag” Bill In Summer Study Committee

State lawmakers say putting the “ag-gag” bill in a summer study committee could help pass the measure after dying on the final day of the 2013 session.

Cows

Photo: Socially Responsible Agriculture Project (flickr)

The bill is an ongoing effort to crack down on people taking defaming photos and video at farms and factories.

The “ag-gag” bill is aimed at criminalizing scenarios such as animal rights activists taking pictures at a slaughterhouse and publishing them in an attempt to hurt the business.

Rep. Bill Friend (R-Macy), the bill’s House sponsor last session, says the summer study committee examining the issue will try to find a balance between protecting the rights of both property and free speech — a balance he says lawmakers struggled to find during session.

“We were rushing, rushing, rushing trying to get language that would satisfy the constitutional lawyers and language that would address the issue and I think we just, you know… the clock ran out on us,” Friend says.

But Bloomington Democratic Representative Matt Pierce doubts the study committee will be able to find the balance. He says the restrictions are “inherently bad policy.”

“When you look across all of Indiana, I have not heard of people having their property invaded by camera-wielding whistleblowers,” Pierce says. “I have not heard of the problems that they’re trying to solve. I think it’s a solution searching for a problem.”

The study committee on economic development will consider the issue this summer. Friend says he hopes the committee can produce a draft of potential legislation the General Assembly could consider next session.

Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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