Eye On Boise

House panel votes 13-1 in favor of SB 1337, so-called ‘ag gag’ bill

After a three-and-a-half-hour hearing, the House Agriculture Committee has voted 13-1 in favor of SB 1337, the bill to criminalize taking surreptitious video or photos of an agricultural operation without the owner’s permission. The only committee member to vote against the bill was Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

“We’ve heard a lot of testimony today and I appreciate that,” said Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, “and I appreciate everyone’s patience and their politeness for the most part. I believe this is a good piece of legislation to protect agriculture and agri-business, and I hope you will support it.” Rep. Gayle Batt, R-Wilder, said, “I think this was well-vetted.”

By my rough tally, 38 people testified during the hearing, 19 for the bill and 19 against the bill. Plus, six more people who were called to testify just said from their seats that they supported the bill.

The bill now moves to the full House. House Agriculture Chairman Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, said, “I would like to congratulate you people in the audience for your courtesy and your decorum today. This is the process that we employ in the state to try and accomplish what we say and feel and hope is the people’s will.”

Afterward, Andrus said he believes Idaho needs to do more to prevent and bring to light incidents of animal abuse; he’s pushed for legislation to make animal torture a felony, but to no avail. “I’ve gotten nowhere with animal torture, and it’s come from the other side,” he said, referring to the Senate. “We’ve got to do more. This is not an end-all, catch-all basket for our problems, and if this legislation were a cover-up for animal cruelty, I could not support it. … We have got to protect private property from spying.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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