Utah’s Ag-Gag Bill Signed into Law

Update March 20, 2012: Utah Governor Gary Herbert has signed the ag-gag bill into law. For more on this, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below. 

Update March 9, 2012: The Utah Ag-gag bill, H.B. 187, is now headed to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature. Find contact info for the governor here. If you live in Utah, write (faxes or letters are best) or call now and urge him to veto this bill which tramples First Amendment freedoms and will enable farm animal abusers. 

Update March 7, 2012:  Utah’s Ag-gag bill, H.B. 187 passed the state Senate today and immediately the House of Representatives concurred in a minor amendment. The bill was sent for enrolling and will go to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.   

Update February 29, 2012Utah’s Ag-gag bill, H.B. 187, has passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin of 60-14. The bill now moves to the Utah Senate. 

Original report: The Utah legislature is considering a bill that would make undercover investigations of farm animal and equine cruelty illegal. The "ag-gag" bill, H.B. 187, would make it a crime for anyone to knowingly or intentionally record an image or even a sound on the premises of an agricultural operation without the owner’s consent. A violation by leaving a recording device on the property would be a Class A misdemeanor. It would be a Class B misdemeanor for violations after learning such conduct is prohibited by the owner or in cases of criminal trespass.  Rep. John Mathis is the bill’s sponsor.

The only purpose of the bill is to shut down undercover investigations that expose animal cruelty in agricutural operations. The bill would trample First Amendment rights including chilling other forms of protest.

Similar provisions in a bill in Florida  were killed in committee in 2012. Similar bills in New York, Minnesota, Iowa and Florida failed to pass in 2011. But this year a similar though revised bill has passed the Iowa legislature and the New York bill as well as the Minnesota bill carried over and are now pending. There is also a bill pending in Indiana and another in Nebraska that would shut down undercover investigations of farm animal abuse in this way.