To Veto Or Not To Veto Animal Cruelty Bill: Governor Will Wait For Tennessee Attorney General’s Opinion

Undercover video released by the Humane Society of the United States last year led to federal charges at a stable in Collierville, outside Memphis, over horse abuse, including using painful chemicals to force a high-stepping gait for show competitions. Credit the HSUS

Undercover video released by the Humane Society of the United States last year led to federal charges at a stable in Collierville, outside Memphis, over horse abuse, including using painful chemicals to force a high-stepping gait for show competitions. Credit the HSUS

Governor Bill Haslam says he’ll decide by Monday whether or not to veto the so-called “ag-gag” bill.  Thousands of people have called and emailed Haslam’s office, and some celebrities are urging him to stop it from becoming law.

The proposal would require people who document animal abuse to hand their recordings over to police within 48 hours.  Opponents say it would actually make it harder to prove patterns of animal cruelty.  The argument has put a spotlight on Haslam’s next move.

“While we’re always interested in peoples’ opinions – I’ve had a whole lot of entertainers and movie stars weigh in – at the end of the day it should be about, ‘Is the bill constitutional? Does it encourage the healthy treatment of animals? And is it good public policy that’s well-written for the state?’”

Haslam says he’s expecting to hear either today or tomorrow whether Tennessee’s Attorney General thinks the bill is constitutional.  After that he’ll decide no later than the beginning of next week if he’ll veto the bill, sign it into law, or let it become law without his signature.

One of the latest groups pressing for a veto is the American Civil Liberties Union, with a petition it says more than 33 thousands people have signed, including 350 Tennesseans.  The ACLU argues such a law would unconstitutionally hurt the right to free speech for people trying to expose animal cruelty.

Haslam’s office says it’s now received more than 15 thousand emails on the matter.  And of almost 5 thousand calls, more than 90 percent want Haslam to veto the bill.


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