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Eye On Boise

Wed., Feb. 26, 2014, 9:36 a.m.

Blindfolded protesters decry dairy spying bill

Dozens of protesters in black blindfolds, some with black tape over their mouths, gathered on the Statehouse steps yesterday to protest SB 1337, the so-called “ag gag” bill that would criminalize taking surreptitious video of photos of agricultural operations. Mercy For Animals, the group behind a graphic covert video taken at a southern Idaho dairy that led to criminal charges against employees for abuse of cows, organized the protest; participants carried signs with slogans including, “Punish Animal Abusers, Not Whistleblowers” and “Idaho: Safe haven for animal abuse.” KTBV-TV has a report here on the protest, including photos.

The bill creates a new crime of “interference with agricultural production,” with a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. Violators also would have to pay double damages in restitution. The new crime would cover recording anything at an ag production operation without permission; intentionally damaging an ag operation, including crops, animals or equipment; misrepresenting oneself in seeking employment at an ag operation; or obtaining records of an ag operation by  “force, threat, misrepresentation or trespass.” It’s on the 3rd reading calendar in the House, and could come up for debate and a vote as soon as today.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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