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Organic Consumers Association

Tenn. Governor Haslam Vetoes "Ag Gag" Anti-Whistleblower Bill

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's CAFO's vs. Free Range page and our Tennessee News page.

Tenn. Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed the anti-whistleblower "ag-gag" bill, SB 1248/HB 1191, after thousands of Tennesseans urged the veto and the Tennessee Attorney General wrote a report deeming the bill constitutionally suspect.

Animal protection groups, First Amendment advocates and newspaper editorial boards across Tenn. opposed the bill, which would have criminalized undercover investigations at agribusiness operations and stables. More than 300 Tenn. clergy also spoke out against the bill, as did several Tenn. celebrities, including Priscilla Presley, singers Carrie Underwood and Emmylou Harris, actresses Ginnifer Goodwin and Elaine Hendrix and Miss Tennessee USA 2013. The bill also received national criticism from talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who invited Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, on her show to discuss the issue.

Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS, said, "We thank Gov. Haslam for listening to his constituents and honoring the Constitution by vetoing this recklessly irresponsible legislation that would criminalize the important work of cruelty whistleblowers. By vetoing this bill, the governor is supporting transparency in horse stables and our food system."

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, said, "It's the wrong policy to punish the person who exposes cruelty, instead of the person who perpetrates it. We are grateful to Governor Haslam for hearing the clear voice of Tennesseans and ending this debate so emphatically."

In his statement describing his reasons for vetoing the bill, Gov. Haslam had said, "First, the Attorney General says the law is constitutionally suspect. Second, it appears to repeal parts of Tennessee's Shield Law without saying 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."   


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