ICYMI: Jim Norman's bill to penalize people who film animals in farms fails in Florida Legislature

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As originally composed, Norman's bill would have made it a first-degree felony for anyone who took photos or video of a farm or its animals without the property owner's consent, including law enforcement officials.

But later in committee it was severely watered down to only becoming a misdemeanor, with provisions made for law enforcement and certain state agency officials to be able to conduct such surveillance.

The bill was opposed by a number of animal rights groups, including the very mainstream Humane Society, whose CEO, Wayne Pacelle, who said that the legislation threatened "not only animal welfare and food safety, but also free speech."

PETA was also opposed, with its senior vice president, Dan Matthews, making an appearance at USF to blast the bill as well, as he told the college audience that farms and slaughterhouses need mandatory video surveillance. Without the footage, he said, animal cruelty and employee turnover rates will sky rocket. "

Similar legislation was proposed in other states, such as in Iowa, where CNN commentators last month argued would probably be ruled unconstitutional if it was enacted.


During this past Florida Legislative session, one proposed bill raised the ire of environmentalists across the country - that was Hillsborough state Senator Jim Norman's idea to make it a first-degree misdemeanor (originally it was a felony) to prevent animal-rights activists from sneaking onto farms and gathering footage for videos of farming practices.

The bill was approved in the Senate, but never taken up in the House.

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