A popular country music artist is joining animal rights groups in calling on Gov. Bill Haslam to veto a controversial bill that would require anyone recording images of animal abuse to submit unedited footage or photos to law enforcement within 48 hours.
The bill's House sponsor says animal safety is their top priority.
"I think what we need to do is make sure and recognize that if animals are being abused it needs to come to justice, and it needs to come to justice quickly," said State Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden. "And that's the intention of this bill, bar none. No matter what anybody tells you. That's the intention of this legislation."
However, critics of the Livestock Cruelty Prevention Act say the bill's short reporting deadline would result in short, incomplete investigations and say the bill discourages would-be whistleblowers from coming forward out of fear of prosecution.
The ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and Mercy for Animals have all appealed to Haslam to veto the bill - as has country music artist Carrie Underwood.
Underwood posted a message Thursday to her nearly 1.5 million Twitter followers:
"Shame on TN lawmakers for passing the Ag Gag bill. If Gov. Bill Haslam signs this, he needs to expect me at his front door. Who's with me?"
That didn't sit well with Holt, who contends the sooner any abuse is reported, the sooner an investigation can begin.
"I would say that if Carrie Underwood will stick to singing, I'll stick to lawmaking," Holt said.
The Humane Society in 2011 secretly filmed video inside a West Tennessee training stable, showing caustic substances being applied to Tennessee Walking Horses' legs and hooves and the animals being beaten to make them stand. Trainer Jackie McConnell pleaded guilty in federal court in September.
Video of the abuse is gut-wrenching, and there is a good chance it will show up several times in your living room over the next few days as the Humane Society of the United States launches a $100,000 television ad campaign in Nashville and Knoxville.
"Call Gov. Haslam, tell him to veto this bill and stop the animal cruelty cover up," the ad says.
For now, Haslam has not indicated if he will sign the bill or not.
"We've obviously gotten a lot of calls, so you can tell everyone to hold - we've gotten all we need on both sides. I think we understand. I'll be looking through the ramifications," Haslam said.
The governor has 10 days from the time a bill passes to either sign it into law, veto it or do nothing - in which case it becomes law anyway.
Saturday, July 26 2014 1:38 AM EDT2014-07-26 05:38:59 GMT
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