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Iowa lawmakers send new Ag-Gag trespass bill to governor for signature

Animal rights activists said the bill is a way to circumvent a previously struck down Ag-gag law which criminalized those who would do undercover investigations under false pretenses.

JAQUI FATKA: ‘In Iowa, the Ag Production Facility Trespass legislation passed in both the state’s House and Senate that would create a trespass charge for anyone who uses deception to access an agricultural production facility that is not open to the public. The bill, approved by a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate 41-8 and the House 65-32, now goes to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for her expected signature on March 14. Animal activists said the bill is a way to circumvent a previously struck down ag-gag law which criminalized those who would do undercover investigations under false pretenses. Lawmakers said they studied the ruling earlier this year and drafted this legislation to make it similar to laws in other states that have been upheld by courts…

The law states a person commits agricultural production facility trespass if by using deception “gains access to the agricultural production facility, with the intent to cause physical or economic harm or other injury to the agricultural production facility’s operations, agricultural animals, crop, owner, personnel, equipment, building, premises, business interest, or customer”… On February 14, 2019 the court declared Iowa’s Ag-Fraud statute unconstitutional under the First Amendment and placed a permanent injunction order on the statute going forward…

The Animal Legal Defense Fund encouraged Iowa citizens to urge against passage, as it will be costly to taxpayers considering that a similar law was struck down as unconstitutional in January 2019, the group said. In a form letter to send to legislators, the ALDF stated legislation such as these “have been struck down by federal courts in Utah and Idaho, as well, as violating the First Amendment. Idaho was, additionally, ordered to pay $260,000 in attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs who challenged its Ag-Gag law. Similarly, Utah was ordered to pay $349,000 for attorneys’ fees and legal costs. Iowa will likely face similar fees. I don’t want my taxpayer resources being used to pass, and defend, more unconstitutional ag-gag legislation”.’ SOURCE…

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