Bill to block farm videos raises constitutional concerns

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A bill aimed at making it illegal to videotape farming operations was the subject of a heated public hearing at the Statehouse Thursday morning.

The bill is prompted by undercover investigations of animal treatment conducted by the Humane Society of the United States, but opponents include broadcasters and the newspaper industry.  They say it violates the first amendment and serves as an attempt to gag the media.

Supporters, including major farming organizations, say the videos are often edited to distort the truth.

"There's no constitutional right to gather news on private property," Bob Kraft of Indiana Farm Bureau told the committee.

Among those who testified against the bill was a Hamilton County parent, Leslie Holding, who said, "If you don't have video of something you don't have proof that something happened.  Making the video illegal gives these industries deniability."

The Indiana House Committee considering the bill will vote on it next week. In the meantime, House Speaker Brian Bosma says it raises constitutional concerns.

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