House passes restrictions on filming food production, farming operations

Kentucky Lantern

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After rejecting protections for whistleblowers and accidental violations, the House on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 16 restricting drone photography of food production plants and animal feeding operations.

Democratic Rep. Al Gentry of Louisville offered an amendment protecting whistleblowers who film violations of safety or health laws. 

Overbroad bill risks turning food plant workers, government inspectors, neighbors into criminals

Rep. Chad Aull, D-Lexington, offered an amendment to clarify that unintentionally leaving on a phone camera or recorder would not constitute a violation.

Both amendments were defeated on party line votes after Rep. Richard Heath, R-Mayfield, told his colleagues that the bill’s sponsor and the lobbyist for Tyson Foods considered both proposals unfriendly amendments. Sen. John Schickel, R- Union, is the bill’s sponsor.

The House voted 72-25 in favor of the measure sought by the poultry industry.

Opponents have warned that imprecise language in what they call an “ag-gag” bill could be used to punish citizens and even government inspectors trying to document hazardous conditions, including pollution and food safety violations. 

The bill will now go to Gov. Andy Beshear.

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