A hearing is continuing this morning – it’s well into its second hour – on SB 1337, the so-called “ag gag” bill to criminalize taking or distributing video or other recordings of agricultural production operations without permission. The bill follows an incident in which an animal rights group distributed a video of serious abuse of cows by employees at a southern Idaho dairy, leading to criminal charges. The hearing is in the Lincoln Auditorium; you can watch live here, click on "Lincoln Auditorium."
Gov. Butch Otter was asked about the bill this morning. “I think these ‘gotcha’ moments and the opportunity for a ‘gotcha’ moment both are wrong,” he said. “I think that the actions by that group maybe did us a favor. It turned the light on and said, ‘Hey, these things are going on, you’d better get to watching.’”
He said he thought the agricultural associations responded responsibly to the dairy incident. “They understand what those actions did to their image in their association, whether it was in the dairy industry or whatever,” Otter said. “They put together a watch group, they put together an investigation group that my understanding is going to, from time to time, unannounced show up at those operations to make sure that that kind of thing is not happening again.”
Given that, said, “I think what we’re doing is saying listen, if you trespassed under false pretenses, you can be held responsible for that,” he said. Idaho already outlaws trespassing, he acknowleged, but said, “Not specifically like that.”