TENNESSEE Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed legislation that would have required anyone who films or photographs animal cruelty to report the incident and submit the images to law enforcement authorities within 48 hours.
The bill passed both the Tennessee House and Senate (Feedstuffs, April 22 and April 29), passing by just one vote in the House, but Haslam vetoed the bill April 13 on concerns over its constitutionality.
His attorney general, Bob Cooper, had issued a legal opinion earlier that the bill was "constitutionally suspect" as a violation of the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination.
The bill was aggressively opposed by a number of animal activist groups and other personalities, who maintained that such laws, which have been dubbed "ag gag" laws, would prevent animal activists from recording secret videos of animal abuse on livestock and poultry farms.
Supporters have said those videos are edited so heavily that they can misrepresent animal treatment and, where there is abuse, perpetuate continued mistreatment for days or weeks until the videos are released.
Sponsors of the bill in the Tennessee legislature said they will bring the bill back in the next session in a new version that addresses Cooper's concerns.
A similar bill failed to win approval in the Indiana legislature.