LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Representatives heard testimonies last week both for and against Senate Bill 373. The bill requires written consent from property owners to take pictures or videos of agricultural or industrial operations on private property. That includes livestock. In its original version the bill made it illegal to distribute any videos or photos that were taken without consent.
However, State Representative Don Lehe (R-25) said new amendments have changed that.
"I think the elimination of language of dissemination of the material will satisfy that issue with the requirement they have to report it first to authorities," Lehe said.
Lehe said the bill was designed to protect animals, property owners' rights, and whistleblowers. He said the bill no longer restricts the sharing of pictures or videos as long as they are first turned over to authorities.
"If it's animal abuse, if it's a violation we all want that improved and reported and that the bad actors either correct their actions or dealt with legally," Lehe said.
If undercover videos or photos aren't given to authorities violators could face a misdemeanor.
State Representative Sheila Klinker (D-27) said she voted against the so called "Ag-gag" bill because it targets the media and violates a key ingredient of investigative reporting.
"Freedom of speech, freedom to check on situations that may be negative for other folks, particularly dealing with food products," Klinker said.
Klinker said taking away First Amendment rights could be detrimental.
"I think we have found some situations in Indiana that are questionable and that our ability to be able to photograph these situations has certainly helped," Klinker said.
Both Lehe and Klinker say they're expecting the bill will undergo further changes as it moves through the House.
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