From celebrities to clergy, politicians to consumers, all eyes are on Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam as he wrestles with signing or vetoing the state’s so-called “ag gag” bill.
If signed, the bill would require those with evidence of animal abuse – such as videos or images – to turn the material over to local law enforcement within 24 hours. Read more about the bill. According to Knox News in an article here, the 24-hour reporting time frame is no different from current law requiring reporting of child abuse to authorities.
Haslam now has until May 14 to make a decision, according to Food Safety News.
While Haslam mulls the bill, both sides of the spirited debate are vying to be heard.
A number of celebrities, including country music star Carrie Underwood and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, have called on Haslam to veto the bill. The celebrities were also recently joined by a group of clergy leaders.
While the voices against the bill are growing louder, supporters of the bill are also standing their ground. Food Safety News reports that Tennessee Republican Representative Andy Holt battled Underwood in a “twitter war."
Holt also took aim at Humane Society of the United States staffer Kayci McLead.
“I am extremely pleased that we were able to pass HB 1191 today to help protect livestock in Tennessee from suffering months of needless investigation that propagandist groups of radical animal activists, like your fraudulent and reprehensibly disgusting organization of maligned animal abuse profiteering corporatists, who are intent on using animals the same way human-traffickers use 17 year old women,” Holt wrote in a heated email exchange available here.
While the debate rages, Haslam continues to “wrestle” with the decision.
“At the end of the day it comes back to is it good policy? Is it constitutional, and do we think it’s something that will actually help the welfare of animals and livestock?” he asked.