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Bill banning secret videotaping at businesses fails

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A bill that would make it illegal to secretly take videos or photographs that could make a business look bad failed Friday in the Indiana Legislature after debate over whether it would squelch whistleblowers trying to expose wrongdoing.

The Senate voted 29-21 in favor of the bill. But the House sponsor withdrew the measure a short time later after a floor debate during which several opponents argued it could lead to criminal charges against those trying to document unsafe working conditions or even customers who sent text messages about an unsanitary restaurant.

The bill would make it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail to commit "an act ... with the intent to harm" a business on the property.

Bill sponsor Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, said a few hours after the House debate that he wouldn't try to advance another version of the legislation.

Holdman said the bill was meant to protect factories, farms and other businesses from those who violated the owner's property rights.

"I don't think we really want to go to that place in our culture where we turn vigilantes loose with cameras going around doing the work of police and regulatory agencies," Holdman said.

House opponents of the bill called it a "gag all" measure that intruded on freedom of speech rights.

"People who are doing this and trying to whistleblow on danger should be rewarded for protecting lives, not threatened," said Rep. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend.

Rep. Thomas Saunders, R-Lewisville, said he worried the bill's provisions would make it illegal to visit a constituent in a nursing home and take photos if he saw unsafe conditions.

Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, disputed the contention that customers at a restaurant or retail business could face criminal charges, but said he withdrew the bill he sponsored at the request of Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma.

Earlier, Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said he was troubled that the bill didn't protect people who did nothing misleading with the photos or videotapes.

"We ought not put people in jail for taking pictures, especially if the picture shows nothing but the truth, and if knowing the truth is in the public interest," Lanane said.

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  • Relief
    I'm relieved that this bill did not go further because it was designed specifically to protect businesses from being exposed for wrong doing. I am ashamed that this bill was even written and it just adds to the backwards view of Indiana. If a farm or factory has nothing to hide, they should not fear people taking pictures of videotaping. We cannot allow our representatives to create unlawful bills that protect businesses from whisteblowers. The GOP says it stands for the constitution, but apparently only when it is convenient for them. #1 Freedom of Speeach
  • Never a discouraging word
    It's already illegal to say anything bad about Indy, or panhandle, or do just about anything when there's a big convention in town. Why, it's almost as if the locals think everyone is as brain dead as they are.

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  1. What became of this project? Anyone know?

  2. Scott, could you post an enlarged photo of the exterior of the building? This will be a great addition to Walnut Street. This area will only continue to develop with additions like this. Also, please give us more updates on the "Cultural Trail light" expansion. Also a great move for the city, as long as there is maintenance money set aside.

  3. Great story IBJ! Citizens don't have a real sense of the financial magnitude of supporting Indy's sports and tourism sector. The CIB was a brilliant idea for creating a highly integrated public-private partnership to support this sector from the economic activity it generates. Unfortunately, most folks think the benefits of that economic activity accrue directly to the City budget, and it doesn't. So though the CIB is facing lean times (covering its costs while maintaining minimally acceptable reserves), the City is operating with deficit - less tax revenue than expenses each year - with a very fragile reserve balance. That's why it's so challenging for the City to fund basic needs or new intitatives (e.g. pre-k education; new jail), and some credit rating agencies have downgraded Indy from it's past stellar AAA status. More reporting on City finances would be welcomed.

  4. Sure, I'll admit that it bugs me to see that the IBJ.COM censors it's blog posts almost as much as the D of I does when someone points out the falsehoods and fabrications. _____But I think it bothers me almost as much that Captain/Defender/Disciple get his yanked too. You see, those of us with a sense of integrity, humanity, compassion, and a need for fact based opinion WANT to see all of his screeds posted. It makes our point so much better than we can do it ourselves.

  5. We're conflating two very different topics. Voter fraud is a myth and excessive gun violence is all too real. I just hope rational gunowners decide to stop being shouted down by the, well, let's call them "less rational" ones.

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