Country singer Carrie Underwood took to Twitter last week to blast Tennessee lawmakers
for passing the so-called "Ag Gag" bill, which advocates say would make it much harder for people to report animal abuse at farms.
"Shame on TN lawmakers for passing the Ag Gag bill," Underwood tweeted on April 18 in a rage-filled rant on the social network. "If Gov. Bill Haslam signs this, he needs to expect me at his front door. Who's with me?"
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Haslam responded to the singer the following day during an interview with WSMV.
"I would say that if Carrie Underwood will stick to singing, I'll stick to lawmaking," he said.
Underwood, a longtime animal activist, fired back on Twitter.
"I should stick to singing?" the "Blown Away" singer said. "Wow . . . sorry, I'm just a tax paying citizen concerned for the safety of my family."
Several states, including Arkansas, Indiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Vermont are considering "ag gag" legislation that would criminalize animal cruelty whistleblowers to varying degrees.
Some states, like Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Indiana, introduced bills that make going undercover at animal farms illegal altogether
. Other states are pushing for legislation that would pardon a resident's investigation as long as they turn over the footage to authorities immediately. Another consideration lawmakers are weighing is barring advocates from misrepresenting themselves and applying for a job at a farm for the sake of an investigation.
In Tennessee, the Livestock Cruelty Prevention Act, requiring all advocates turnover video within 48 hours or face criminal charges, have passed in the state legislature.
Opponents of the bill, like Underwood, say the restriction would prevent long-term, meaningful investigations from occurring, since advocates would only be allowed to survey a facility for a short time before having to turn over materials.
Now, the governor has 10 days to sign the bill once it arrives on his desk.
Haslam told Nashville Public Radio that he needs to read up on the ag gag bill
and hear both sides before making an informed decision.
“It’s not one that was quite frankly really high on my radar screen so I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to it,” Haslam told reporters following the legislature’s adjournment. “We’ve obviously already gotten a lot of calls and emails on it, so you can tell everybody to hold. We’ve got all we need on both sides.”
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