In what has become known as Ag-Gag bills (states enacting into law penalties for those who film undercover video of animal abuse on factory farms) Illinois is going one step further. Sponsored by Republican State Senator Chapin Rose, SB1532 – if passed – will amend the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act by allowing the Department of Agriculture to refer any complaint it determines as not valid to the State’s Attorney for criminal charges. Say what?!!
Leading this punitive bill is Senator Chapin Rose. According to Steve Hindi from SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness), an Illinois-based animal advocacy organization, Rose is known to take money from the NRA (National Rifle Association) and Big Tobacco companies.
In 2009, when Rose was a State Congressman, he also co-sponsored bill HB0583 to bring horse slaughter back to Illinois. That bill intended to restrict certain types of horse meat from regulation and repeal the prohibition of horse meat for human consumption. HB0583 has not yet been passed into law.
Hindi is well known in the animal advocacy arena for filming and reporting abuse at live pigeon shoots, rodeos and other venues. He is determined to protect the lives and welfare of all animals, wherever they are on the receiving end of abuse and mistreatment. As SHARK is an Illinois-based group it will be interesting to see how SB1532 –- if passed — will affect the dedicated efforts of this organization. Hindi tells Senator Rose “Save that first prosecution for me. I’m your Huckleberry.”
Bills such as SB1532 and the numerous Ag-Gag bills throughout the U.S. aim to punish whistleblowers. You have to wonder why there are proponents of this type of legislation. What are they trying to hide? Why should the people who report animal abuse be criminally charged for the act of reporting it?
“It’s totally anti-American,” Janet Enoch from SHARK told me. “It [Ag-Gag bills] destroys the foundation that American values were built on.” Freedom of speech is guaranteed by our Constitution. Certainly, helping those in need – human or animal – is a basic tenant of all religions. What Senator Rose is proposing goes against the grain of humanity, morality, ethics and just plain common sense.
SHARK isn’t the only group that opposes SB1532. Karen Hudson, farmer and member of ICCAW (Illinois Citizens for Clean Air & Water) stated in the Rock River Times “We oppose any legislation that will allow confidentiality of whistleblowers to be lifted by entities such as the Illinois Department of Agriculture.”
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