North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory vetoed (rejected) a bill on Friday that would allow businesses to sue employees who secretly record animal, child or elderly abuse.
This is a landmark victory for animal advocates, because it will protect those who perform “whistleblower” investigations to continue their work in protecting not just animals, but the most vulnerable in our society-the very young and the very old. The world needs whistleblowers because we need transparency.
House Bill 405, dubbed the “Property Protection Act,” would have allowed a business or property owner to seek damages against any employee who enters an unauthorized area to record video or sound. This bill was being fought by some famous names in the United States. Martha Stewart, singer Kesha, actress Andie McDowell, actor Eric McCormack and race car driver Leilani Munter are among those who didn’t want to see HB 405 pass.
Had the bill passed, it would have covered any business in the state, not just those involving livestock, as many people think. I believe a lot of people didn’t follow the bill closely because a lot of people don’t care how livestock are treated. The reality is, treatment of livestock was only a small part of what whistleblowers go undercover to find out. Improvements in the care of animals at many shelters has occurred because maltreatment has been exposed by whistleblowers.
Associated: have you been gagged?
This short video was made to show the dangers this bill would have presented if passed:
The very young and the very old also needed Ag-Gag bill killed. Had it passed, undercover investigations into daycare’s and nursing homes would have put the person investigating in danger of being sued.
HB405 was opposed by the AARP, claiming it would prevent employees from reporting problems in nursing homes, hospitals, group homes, medical practices, charter and private schools and daycare centers. In a media statement made after Governor Pat McCrory vetoed the bill,
“AARP applauds Governor McCrory for vetoing HB 405. This bill has many unintended negative consequences on older adults, families and children. When it comes to protecting the health and safety of our loved ones, we agree with the Governor that we need to create an environment that does not discourage people from reporting illegal activities.”
Another group to applaud Governor McCrory’s veto is Mercy for Animals, who are well known for using secret recordings to expose animal abuse. Nathan Runkle, President, stated:
“Today is a great day for animals in North Carolina and nationwide. Governor McCrory has restored faith in North Carolina’s political system by listening to the will of his constituents and vetoing the dangerous and un-American ag-gag bill.”
I’m very glad Governor McCrory had the good sense to veto this bill. It was a tough week waiting to see whether he would take the time out to do so. Not only was this a holiday week, with Memorial Day being last Monday, but bills presented at the end of the month are more likely to be ignored. Had McCrory not vetoed Ag-Gag, it would have gone into law automatically without his signature on June 1.
I really hope the veto will encourage more undercover investigations into North Carolina animal shelters, as several are listed among the worst in the United States. Anything that protects the welfare of our furbabies, as well as our children and senior citizens, should be a top priority of our citizens, no matter what state they reside in.
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