NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 29, 2013 — State Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) released a letter today sent to Governor Bill Haslam from the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation in support of Senate Bill 1248 which she and Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) sponsored. The bill calls for any intentional video recordings, photographs or digital images regarding animal cruelty to be handed over to authorities within 48 hours for possible prosecution.
The Farm Bureau urged Governor Haslam to sign the bill which passed the State Senate and House of Representatives on April 17. The legislation will likely head to the Governor’s desk for his signature this week after it is signed by House and Senate Speakers. The Governor then has 10 days after it reaches his desk, excluding Sundays and holidays, to sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature.
“Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation and our farmer members support the purpose of the bill and believe it is needed,” said Farm Bureau President W. Lacy Upchurch in the letter. “It addresses two key issues: stopping animal abuse and providing due process to the accused.”
“This bill will help stop both animal abuse and the intentional misuse of recorded images to harm a business in the court of public opinion,” Upchurch continued. “Getting evidence of animal abuse to law enforcement quickly is the best way to accomplish both goals in the manner designed by our judicial system.”
Upchurch said the Farm Bureau neither condones nor supports crimes against livestock and that such action should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. “Therefore, if there is proof of such activity, it should be promptly provided to law enforcement so that our judicial system can act as designed,” he added.
The bill prescribes a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine only for those who record video or digital images of abuse and who do not report them to authorities. Similar animal cruelty laws have been enacted in Iowa, Utah, Kansas, North Dakota and Wyoming. Similar legislation has been proposed and is pending action in Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Wyoming.