(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Taking videos and photos at Indiana farms and factories without permission could soon be a crime.
Senate Bill 373 passed the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on a 9-3 vote Thursday.
The legislation seeks to make it a misdemeanor to photograph or video the businesses unless the images are given to law enforcement within 48 hours. Posting the images to social media or websites like YouTube would be illegal. So would providing the images to news outlets.
Supporters say the bill is aimed at stopping overzealous activists from defaming farms and businesses with misleading videos. However, both Democrat and Republican opponents of the legislation are concerned that it would prevent exposure of puppy mills or other animal abuse.
The full House will consider the bill next. One of the lawmakers voting on it will be State Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), who has told Eagle 99.3 he "hates" the bill.
"I have been working diligently on making sure that the state doesn't make a big mistake with this bill," McMillin said prior to the committee vote.
Various media organizations have urged lawmakers to defeat waht is referred to as the "ag gag" legislation.
"Over the years, investigative journalism has exposed issues that pose threats to the general public. Many of these exposes have resulted in new laws or regulations. Had there been criminal penalties in place prohibiting sharing of photos or videos with media these might not have come to light," said Joe Misiewicz, President of the Indiana Broadcasters Association.