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National Voices Join Local Call for Veto of TN's "Ag-Gag" Bill

PHOTO: The Humane Society says the "ag-gag" bill would hamper investigations like the one in 2011 that captured nationally recognized walking horse trainer and his associates brutally beating horses and using painful chemicals on their legs. CREDIT: HSUS
PHOTO: The Humane Society says the "ag-gag" bill would hamper investigations like the one in 2011 that captured nationally recognized walking horse trainer and his associates brutally beating horses and using painful chemicals on their legs. CREDIT: HSUS
April 23, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A coalition of animal-rights and public-interest groups is urging Gov. Bill Haslam to veto the so-called "ag-gag" bill. The legislation would require any video footage of abuse on a farm or livestock operation to be turned over to authorities within 48 hours. Supporters say that way the abuse will be stopped right away, but according to the president of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, investigations are not "one size fits all" and this would simply muzzle whistle-blowers.

"Some investigations take one day. Some investigations take one week. Some take one month. This is clearly an attempt by a couple of lawmakers aligned with the farm lobby to prevent future investigations," Pacelle charged.

Haslam last week said he planned to study the issue further before making his decision on whether to sign or veto the legislation.

The only previous major investigation into animal abuse in Tennessee by the Humane Society, Pacelle said, came in 2011. That footage allegedly captured a nationally-recognized walking-horse trainer and his associates brutally beating horses and using painful chemicals on their legs.

"That investigation resulted in federal and state charges against Mr. (Jackie) McConnell. That's exactly the way things are supposed to work," Pacelle declared. "A man who was engaging in crime was found out, thanks to the brave work of an investigator, and we should not be making it a crime to take pictures of animals in order to protect animal abusers."

The ag-gag bill also has grabbed the interest of country music star Carrie Underwood, who sent out a note on Twitter, shaming Tennessee lawmakers. Underwood also declared that if the governor signs the bill, he can expect her at his front door.

More information on the bill is at bit.ly/10uGgrT.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN