Tag Archives: video

Thousands Urging Gov to Veto ‘Ag Gag’ Bill

As of Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Bill Haslam’s office had counted 4,502 emails and 1,796 phone calls – almost all of them against the so-called “ag gag” bill, reports WPLN. That’s more than Haslam has ever received on a single subject.
The proposal that passed the Tennessee legislature by a narrow margin requires that activists turn over footage of livestock cruelty to police within 48 hours. Organizations like the Humane Society of the United States say such a law would criminalize long term investigations, like one that led to the conviction of a Tennessee Walking Horse trainer last year.
Animal rights groups have mounted a media blitz, complete with paid advertising in Nashville and Knoxville urging Haslam to veto the bill. TV personality Ellen DeGeneres – a well-known animal activist – had the Humane Society’s CEO on her show to talk about Tennessee’s animal cruelty bill. (More on DeGeneres and ‘Ag Gag’ HERE.)
“These kind of undercover cameras catch a lot of things,” DeGeneres said. “It’s important to keep that kind of thing going.”
It’s unclear how many of the calls and emails are coming from out of state, says a spokesman for Gov. Haslam. Only 16 of the fielded calls have supported the legislation
.

Note: The legislature’s website still says that, as of Tuesday, the bill was awaiting signatures of the House and Senate speakers — a necessary step in the formalities before the bill is officially sent to the governor’s desk. Once on the governor’s desk, he has 10 days — counting Saturday’s but not Sundays — to sign it, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

Animal Abuse Video Bill Wins House Approval 50-43

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A bill seeking to require anyone recording or taking photos of livestock abuse to turn images over to law enforcement within 48 hours was approved in the House on Wednesday with the bare vote minimum needed.
The chamber voted 50-43 to approve the measure sponsored by Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, after defeating several proposed amendments and an extensive debate that at times featured lawmakers making animal noises.
Bills must gain at least 50 votes in the 99-member chamber to pass. The measure now heads to Gov. Bill Haslam, who said earlier this week that he didn’t know enough about the measure to say whether he would sign it into law.
Animal protection activists like the Humane Society of the United States have said the bill would have a chilling effect on whistleblowers and prevent undercover operations from establishing a pattern of abuse.
In 2011, the Humane Society secretly filmed video inside a Tennessee Walking Horse stable showing trainers applying caustic substances to the horses’ legs and beating them to make them stand.
Trainer Jackie McConnell, whose stable was in Senate sponsor Dolores Gresham’s West Tennessee district, pleaded guilty in federal court in September.
The Senate version passed 22-9 on Tuesday.
Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, objected to the bill during the Wednesday debate, calling it unenforceable and “Orwellian.”
“If you walk down the street and see someone commit a murder and you don’t report it, that’s not a crime,” he said, “but under your bill, if you see and record animal abuse and don’t report it, that is a crime.”
Among the failed amendments proposed on Wednesday was one that would have broadened it to require anyone observing animal abuse to report it and not limiting the reporting requirements to a person intentionally recording or photographing the abuse.
Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, tried to amend the bill to specify that news reporters would be protected from prosecution.
“We don’t punish the people who gather the information on the crime, we punish the people who commit the crime,” Lynn said.

Livestock Video Abuse Bill Clears Senate

The Senate has approved, 22-9, legislation that requires anyone filming livestock abuse to turn over all “unedited photographs, digital images or video” to law enforcement authorities within 48 hours.
Proponents say the bill (SB1248) is aimed at stopping animal abuse promptly. Critics said it actually protects animal abusers by targeting only those make photographs or video.
The measure is scheduled for a House floor vote today.
In Senate debate Tuesday, Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, cited abuse of Tennessee Walking Horses recorded on video by the Humane Society of the United States as illustrating the need for legislation. The HSUS video led to successful prosecution for abuse of the animals, but Bell said the animals themselves suffered.
“They sat on it (the video) for four months… then released it at an opportune time for them,” said Bell, suggesting the recording was to “benefit fundraising” by HSUS. “They had no concern for that (abused) horse.”
But Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, noted that if HSUS had “sat on the film forever” the proposed new law would never have come into play and the abuse would have continued.
“You’re criminalizing the film-making, not the abuse,” said Norris. “That puts the lie to the assertion that it’s the abuse you’re concerned with.”
The bill makes it a misdemeanor crime, punishable by a fine of up to $500 but no jail time, to fail to turn over all recordings of livestock abuse to a law enforcement authority.
Norris proposed an amendment that would have required anyone having knowledge of animal abuse to report it to authorities as well. He said that would “get to the root of the problem” by targeting the abuse, not the photographing of the abuse.
Sponsor Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, opposed Norris’ revision, saying it would “make every person who ever saw or observed what they might think animal unreasonably treated, a criminal if don’t turn in.” Norris’ amendment was then tabled, or killed, on a 17-10 vote.
The bill was also debated Wednesday in the House Calendar Committee, where Rep. Jon Lundberg, D-Bristol, tried to have it sent back to the House Civil Justice Committee, which Lundberg chairs, for further hearings.
Lundberg said he believes the bill infringes on First Amendment rights, but his motion was killed with only seven committee members voting for it while 12 opposed. Critics of the bill said amendments may also be filed for today’s House vote.

‘Vigilante’ Video Attacks on Animal Abuse Targeted in ‘Ag Gag’ Bill

Legislators out to stop what they see as “vigilante” attacks on the livestock industry are pushing for enactment of a bill that critics see as an attack on constitutional freedom of speech.
The bill (SB1248) would require anyone observing abuse of livestock to promptly turn over all “unedited photographs, digital images or video” related to the abuse to law enforcement authorities. Under the current Senate version, this would have to occur within 48 hours of when the recording was made or, if the recording was made on a weekend, on the next weekday.
Violators would be guilty of a “class C” misdemeanor, penalized by a maximum fine of $500.
“This is a Catch-22 bill,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, when the proposal (SB1248) came up on the Senate floor last week, referring to the Joseph Heller novel on a paradoxical situation.

Continue reading

House Panel OKs Bill on Undercover Animal Videos

A House panel has approved a bill that requires people making undercover videos of livestock operations to turn an unedited copy over to law enforcement officers within 24 hours.
Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, said that “radical animal activist groups” have taken “months and months” of video recordings as abuse continues. Passage of his bill (HB1191) would protect both the state’s livestock industry and abused animals, he said.
An amendment was suggested to the measure that would exclude media from the bill’s requirement that unedited video, if made without permission of animal owners or those recorded, be turned over to law enforcement officers within 24 hours. In an interview, Holt said he was concerned that animal activists would simply call themselves media to avoid the proposed law.
Under the proposal, violations would be a misdemeanor crime, though punishable only a fine and not jail time.
Holt said that requiring video to be turned over to police was no different than current law requiring reporting of child abuse to authorities.
The bill was approved on voice vote of the House Agriculture Subcommittee and will be before the full Agriculture Committee next week. The subcommittee chairman, Rep. Ron Lollar, R-Bartlett, said he expects further consideration on the media exemption amendment then.
Last year, the Humane Society of the United States released an undercover video of a Tennessee Walking Horse trainer abusing horses to accentuate their performance of what is known as a “high leg kick.” The video led to penalties being imposed against the trainer and others.gs before making them public.

AP Story on Pushback in Legislatures Against Undercover Videos

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.)

Continue reading

Eldridge: Worker’s Comp Freight Train Will Move ‘in a Very Careful Way’

State Rep. Jimmy Eldridge defends to the Jackson Sun his comments on a workers comp bill moving like a freight train through the Legislature — caught on a video that he didn’t realize was recording (Previous post HERE.)
He said in an interview with The Jackson Sun on Thursday that his comments in the video have been twisted and taken out of context.
“This workers’ compensation bill is moving through, and we feel strong that it’s a good deal that we got the votes to pass it. We want (bills) to move like a freight train, in a very careful way. I want to get this bill to the House floor and debated by all the members,” he said.
He later said that “all interested parties will have the opportunity to express their views and give input on how to craft the best piece of legislation possible.
“We all want to ensure that this initiative is fair for both employers and employees, and I welcome the healthy discussion and debate that is starting to take place in the coming days regarding this extremely important piece of legislation,” Eldridge said.


Tennessee Citizen Action has called on House Speaker Beth Harwell to explain Eldridge’s comments. Jeff Woods reports that reporters asked her and House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick about the remarks, but didn’t get much of a response.
“I appreciate his enthusiasm for the bill,” McCormick said. “I think it’s a good bill. Maybe his choice of words could have been better.”
“I don’t know that I can comment for Chairman Eldridge,” Harwell said. “You’re more than welcome to ask him for a response on that.”
We tried that yesterday. One of his minions puffed out his chest, stood in front of the representative’s office door and informed us that “Speaker Harwell’s office” had instructed Eldridge not to talk to reporters. That’s neat, isn’t it? Harwell tells us to talk to Eldridge, and Eldridge says Harwell told him not to talk to us.
It’s all in keeping with the speaker’s motto: “The less you say, the better.”

Alexander Blames Violent Video Games, Not Guns, for Massacre

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. — whose 2008 re-election campaign collected $9,900 from the NRA — partially blamed “violent video games and movies” rather than guns for Friday’s massacre of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school, according to Chris Carroll.
“We should ask the leaders of the entertainment industry whether they would want their children — or those who might harm their children — to watch the increasingly violent video games and movies that they pour into our culture,” Alexander said Monday. “This is not the only cause of violence in our society, but it is one important cause.”
Some news reports have indicated the 20-year-old Connecticut gunman played violent computer games. Alexander said “we must look closely at the behavior of isolated young men who develop an obsession with violence.”
“The problem is not with the gun, but with the person pulling the trigger.” Alexander’s comments came less than 24 hours after President Barack Obama all but started a national conversation on gun control. “These tragedies must end,” Obama said at a memorial service in Connecticut. “And to end them, we must change.”
Tennessee’s other U.S. senator expressed sympathy but sidestepped specific proposals.
“Given such an unspeakable act of violence perpetrated on children, it’s appropriate to talk about what we’re doing to keep our communities safe, recognizing the issues involved are complex,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, who received $4,950 in National Rifle Association funds this year. “Undoubtedly, every contributing factor will be examined.”

TDOT Grants $100K for Anti-Litter Musical Video

News release from Scenic Tennessee:
Mount Juliet, TN – December 11, 2012 – A Tennessee nonprofit best known for
promoting the state’s scenic qualities now wants to showcase Tennessee’s musical
heritage as well.
Scenic Tennessee has been awarded $100,000 by the Tennessee Department of
Transportation to produce a series of quick-paced videos that apply the power of
Tennessee music to the problem of Tennessee litter. Tentatively called
“Tennessee Speed Cleanups,” the project involves videotaping dozens of litter
pickups across the state, digitally accelerating the footage, then setting it to
original or traditional music performed by amateur as well as professional
musicians. Enhanced with captions, credits and images from 20 years of Scenic
Tennessee photo contests, the completed videos will be shared via traditional
media as well as sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. UT Knoxville’s
student environmental group SPEAK will oversee the social media side of the
project.
It’s all part of a new effort by TDOT’s beautification office to address litter
“beyond routine maintenance.” Scenic Tennessee, an affiliate of Scenic America,
is one of 15 grant recipients notified yesterday of their share in nearly $1
million provided by the state’s soft drink and malt beverage industries.
Grantees are required to provide a 20-percent match; for Scenic Tennessee, this
will come in the form of hundreds of hours of volunteer labor.

Rep. Hurley: Pepper Enjoys ‘Air Swimming;’ Critics Politically Motivated

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A state lawmaker hit back Tuesday at critics of a YouTube video she posted of her dog Pepper being held outside a moving car for what she called an “air swim.”
Freshman Rep. Julia Hurley said in an interview in her legislative office that her Chinese crested named Pepper enjoys being held out into the wind.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Hurley’s short video titled “Pepper Air Swims” was pulled two days after being posted on YouTube. Hurley, a Republican, said she removed the video because she “didn’t want to deal with” criticism she calls politically motivated.
“I think it’s a liberal ploy to take the attention off the bills and the legislation I’ve passed and the positive things I’ve done, to make me look like a bad person,” the Lenoir City Republican said.
Hurley said people who complained about the video should explain why they don’t have a similar reaction about other unrestrained dogs in the beds of pickup trucks or leaning out windows.
“My dog obviously enjoys it,” Hurley said. “She’s very happy.”

Continue reading