Cattle Feed Lot
(Flickr Photo Credit: Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, used under Creative Commons License)
Talk to the hand. Actually, just shut up.
That seems to be the message from our chatty state Legislature, which hears only what it wants to hear—or deems legal to.
First, the Legislature overrode the governor's veto of the ag-gag bill
—effectively silencing any employee who wants to document abuses at farms and processing plants where he or he works. (All the more reason for meat-eaters to buy from their local farmers' market. Know your farmer, folks.) You could interpret the bill to extend that gag rule to even nursing homes and day care centers.
Now, with the resurrection of House Bill 201
, citizens could lose their right to protest a rezoning near their property. (Watch, you'll get a two-for-one deal and big-ag will ask to put a chicken processing plant across from your subdivision.)
The bill is in the Senate Commerce Committee
, and there are a few sensible people who sit on it: Democrats Dan Blue, Josh Stein, Valerie Foushee, Angela Bryant, Floyd McKissick Jr.
But the committee is also loaded with conservative Republicans, including Tom Apodaca (who wanted to redistribute the sales tax wealth to rural counties), Harry Brown (who joined Apodaca on that uh socialist sales tax bill and sponsored legislature to usurp local authority over billboard regulations,) and Bob Rucho (who co-sponsored the ag-gag bill and many other pro-fracking measures).
Commerce could take up the bill as soon as next Tuesday.
When HB 201 reared its ugly head in March, the INDY provided a brief primer and history on protest petitions
and the bill itself.