Bill of the Week: Tennessee HB 1191/SB 1248

Over the past few years, several states have introduced bills that would ban the undercover filming of animal agricultural operations.  Several of these bills would, in part, make it illegal for a person to obtain access to an agricultural operation by false pretenses for the purpose of committing an act not authorized by the facility’s owners.

In a unique twist on this type of bill, Tennessee introduced HB 1191/SB 1248.  These bills, as introduced, would require a person who records cruelty to animals as committed against livestock to report such violation and submit any unedited photographs or video recordings to law enforcement authorities within 24 hours of the photograph’s or recording’s creation.  The bill was later amended to make it clear that it only applies to those intentionally filming or photographing for the intention of reporting abuse.  The full language of the amended bill is below.  We are interested in hearing your thoughts.

Tennessee HB 1191/SB 1248

(1)A person who intentionally records by photograph, digital image, video or similar medium for the purpose of documenting a violation of subsection (a) committed against livestock shall, within forty-eight (48) hours, or by the close of business the next business day, whichever is later:

(A) Report such violation to a law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the alleged offense; and

(B) Submit any unedited photographs, digital images or video recordings to law enforcement authorities.

(2) A violation of this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by fine only.


11 thoughts on “Bill of the Week: Tennessee HB 1191/SB 1248

  1. An interesting twist on ‘mandatory reporting’ that I think merits passage….Consider this….next door neighbor “A” witnesses and is fully aware of child abuse/child pornography occuring at house B…and takes photos of the activities…that because willful participation if that evidence is held back….yes I say if animal cruelty is deliberately not reported, there is culpability….

  2. I am not from TN, but I oppose the bill and think AVMA should be oposed as well. I do like the part that authorities need to have full access to the complete unedited videos, but no 24 hr time limit or other restrictions.

  3. This bill is a pro-animal protection bill. It does not criminalize taking of photos. It criminalizes keeping knowledge of criminal animal cruelty a secret. You can keep your photos. You can publish your photos. You just can’t keep it from the law enforcement agencies that need to know about the cruelty crime. I am shocked at the decibel level of the outcry against a bill that those cryers ought to be celebrating.

    • These bills are supposed to “look like” on face value they are about protecting animals, but they are sponsored, driven, and written by the ones it is protecting… the ones abusing the animals. It’s amazing to me how some people can be so naive or rather part of the problem in following the AG party line…

    • Funny that the AVMA would care about a bill like this considering this organization couldn’t even make up their mind in the extreme confinement of egg laying hens, gestation crates, re-opening of horse slaughter or routine use of antibiotics in factory farms which are leading to large outbreaks of possible MSRA because of overuse of antibiotics.
      Sounds like this organization should take the stance for what’s best for animals and the rest will take care of itself.
      I encourage the ration thinkers to star speaking up and take a stance against the injustices happening on today’s large scale farms. Isn’t it your duty to make a positive impact for animals?

  4. I am totally against any criminalization of undercover filming as the bill describes. 1) I don’t want animal abuse to go on where I live, 2) I don’t want prosecutors/police where I live spending ANY time or resources arresting reporters/animal advocates when they could be stopping dangerous criminals and 3) I believe that industries that will resort to really serious animal abuse are not above skirting health and safety laws and might be selling contaminated meet products. I hope that TN’s governor does the RIGHT thing and uses his veto power on this bill. Shame on you TN legislature. Shame. On. You.

  5. Bills like this one help stop animal abuse more quickly. There’s no need for animals to continue to suffer while someone undercover continues to film for weeks or months. Law enforcement needs to be alerted sooner rather than later.

    • Carlotta,
      I understand that it may seem at first glance, that a bill like this has the intention of preventing animal abuse, but the truth is that it would do quite the opposite. These bills protect the abuser. They stop animal rights activists from accumulating enough documentation to prove that animal cruelty is routine at some factory farms and slaughterhouses. Under this bill, farmers can claim the abuse is a one-time occurrence and pretty much go on their merry way. Animal welfare advocates need time to document and collect enough evidence to hold these businesses and organizations LEGALLY accountable. I totally understand the passion and empathy of your perspective — animals should not have to endure prolonged suffering, but unfortunately these bills are not what they seem and will make it near impossible to stop these reoccurring cases of abuse. Real change requires lots of legal documentation and making those individuals—those dedicating their lives to animal welfare the criminals is not the answer. I hope you will reconsider your stance on these bills and share your concerns with your representatives.

      • Thank you for your clear explanation. I was looking for this because I couldn’t figure out what the real issue was anymore. I see now that this bill was definitely written for the farming industry. It’s a conflict of interest in that the real victims will lose protection.

  6. Knowing that most agricultural businesses are located in rural areas, I have a problem with these bills. Without the ability to document the inhumane treatment of any animal, many of the needd changes would have come about. The ability to document has resulted in the convictions of many and brought awareness to others.
    Bring from a rural area, I understand the good ole boy network operates. It doesn’t work in the best interest of the animals.