SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — An undercover video that showed California cows struggling to stand as they were prodded to slaughter by forklifts led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history. In Vermont, a video of veal calves skinned alive and tossed like sacks of potatoes ended with the plant’s closure and criminal convictions.
Now in a pushback led by the meat and poultry industries, state legislators across the country are introducing laws making it harder for animal welfare advocates to investigate cruelty and food safety cases.
Some bills make it illegal to take photographs at a farming operation. Others make it a crime for someone such as an animal welfare advocate to lie on an application to get a job at a plant.
Bills pending in California, Nebraska and Tennessee require that anyone collecting evidence of abuse turn it over to law enforcement within 24 to 48 hours — which advocates say does not allow enough time to document illegal activity under federal humane handling and food safety laws.
(Note: In Tennessee, the reference is to HB1191, sponsored by Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, and Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville. Holt has it on notice for Wednesday in the House Agriculture Subcommittee, according to the legislative website.)
News release from Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry:
NASHVILLE, TN., October 23, 2012–The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced today the appointment of Catherine Glover of Albany, GA, as its president and chief executive officer.
Ms. Glover, executive vice president for global affairs of Equinox Chemicals with 20 years of experience leading chambers of commerce in Maine, New York and Georgia, will begin work for the Tennessee Chamber next month, according to chamber chairman Bill Ozier, a partner in the Bass, Berry & Sims law firm in Nashville.
“Catherine Glover is a strong advocate for business, and has international and domestic experience on the corporate side as well as in chamber work,” Ozier said. “She has a successful track record in legislative coalition-building, growing membership and marketing chamber programs.”
Ozier said the Chamber search committee believes Ms. Glover “is the perfect fit to continue the Tennessee Chamber’s 100-year history of being the voice of business in our state.”
State health officials and members of the restaurant industry plan to ask the legislature to update Tennessee’s 1976 food safety law next year, reports The Tennessean. “Our rules are so old they don’t even address sushi,” said Hugh Atkins, who oversees restaurant inspections for the Tennessee Department of Health.
The Tennessee Food Safety Task Force first considered tweaking compliance rules but finally decided the law itself needed a complete overhaul.
The statute, more than three decades old, does not prohibit restaurant employees from fingering your food and lists temperature requirements for already-cooked dishes that can cause mashed potatoes to get crusty and meats to get leathery.
Task force members say the law wastes resources, falls short of federally recommended standards and can penalize restaurants that operate in older buildings. The temperature requirements for already-cooked foods have no safety benefit, Atkins said. Another requirement mandates that inspectors check a peanut and candy shop as often as a full-fledged restaurant, where the risk of a food-borne illness is much higher
News release from Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry:
The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the voice of business in the state and Tennessee’s largest trade association representing employers and their employees, has launched a search for a new President and CEO.
The new executive will replace Deb Woolley, who left the Chamber effective May 31 under terms of her employment agreement.
Wayne Scharber, the Chamber’s Vice President for Environment and Taxation has been named interim president, according to Bill Ozier, Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. Scharber has been with the Chamber for 13 years and was employed for 36 years in state government.
“We are fortunate to have someone as trusted and experienced as Wayne to help us steer the Chamber forward during this interim period,” Ozier said. All Chamber programs and services will continue as usual while the executive search is under way.
“We are going to build on the Tennessee Chamber’s 100-year track record of success, with new programs and fresh ideas on how better to serve Tennessee businesses and industries,” Ozier continued.
He added that a key part of the Chamber’s mission is a strong and cooperative relationship with the Governor and General Assembly. Ozier said the Chamber plans to have a new CEO in place later this year, “so that individual and the entire Chamber can work with the Administration and legislators to uphold Tennessee’s well-deserved reputation as a prosperous and business-friendly state.”
Ozier said the Chamber believes the outlook for business in Tennessee is “excellent and filled with opportunities. Our goal is to help our member businesses succeed in every possible way.”
The Association for the Future of Film & Television, a Nashville-based lobbying arm for the state film industry, has planned a rally at the state capitol to support pending legislation that would give bigger tax breaks to those who film in Tennessee, reports the Commercial Appeal. The AFFT organized today’s Nashville rally to generate publicity and support for the state Entertainment Industry Investment Act, an incentives bill that would strengthen the state’s ability to compete for film projects.
Sponsored by a pair of Shelby County legislators, Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and Rep. Steve McManus, R-Cordova, the bill would bolster Tennessee’s lights-camera-action allure by offering studios tax credits rather than rebates for production expenses in Tennessee.
“This is about creating jobs in Tennessee, not just for actors and films crews but carpenters, drivers, the hotel industry, the stores,” said Falk, who will tote made-in-Memphis signs to the rally with such slogans as “HUSTLE! Stop the FLOW of Films to Georgia!!” and “We’re Walking the Line for Tennessee Movies.”
The slogans allude to “Hustle & Flow” and “Walk the Line,” two films shot in Memphis before the exodus represented by “The Blind Side,” the cable TV series “Memphis Beat” and Craig Brewer’s “Footloose” remake, all initially set in the Volunteer State but shot in Georgia and Louisiana.
— Note: The bill is HB555/SB354, introduced more than a year ago and not yet scheduled for a vote in a committee of either chamber. The Senate version was put in ‘general sub’ last year. The fiscal note estimates that passage would mean a loss of $35 million in state revenue next fiscal year and $25 million a year thereafter.