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House debate: ‘Vigilante activity,’ ‘Caught up in a social dynamic’

Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, speaking in favor of SB 1337, the so-called “ag gag” bill, said those opposed to the bill are “extreme activists who wish to contrive issues to get donations for their cause. .. I cannot condone vigilante activity.” House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, objected, saying, “He’s ascribing motives without really understanding.” Bateman apologized.

Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, speaking against the bill, said, “I think this bill, even though not intended to do so, finds itself caught up in a social dynamic that we cannot control, and puts us on the wrong path when it comes to the perceptions of the people we seek to sell our products to.”

Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, said, “I believe as a business owner, you have a fundamental right to protect your assets. … This bill doesn’t go any farther than legislation that we have passed in this body … that has become law.”

Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, said, “I come to you as an extreme activist for the Bill of Rights. … To me this looks and quacks like a restriction on speech.” She said if the bill became law, the jail term for exposing animal abuse would be twice as long as for the abuse itself, and said, “I would ask today that you vote for the Bill of Rights and against SB 1337.”

Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, said, “There’s no interpretation of the 1st Amendment that gives someone the right to enter into a private place with a camera and take photos of things that they find objectionable. … I do think that this is a needed law given our circumstances in the state of Idaho.”

Rep. Stephen Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, noted that an Idaho Attorney General's opinion found the bill doesn't conflict with the 1st Amendment. “There is no 1st Amendment right to gather the news beyond that of a citizen,” he said.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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