Committee strips down, passes ag-gag bill

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A Senate committee watered down a bill Tuesday that was meant to stop secret videography and photography of farming operations.

Senate Bill 101 – previously known as the ag-gag bill – originally created a crime called “agricultural mischief.”

But, after facing harsh opposition, Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, amended the bill to limit the crime to property damage and criminal trespassing.

“Basically what we’re doing is striking most of the portions or all of the portions that have to do with mischief that are in the bill,” Holdman said. “We get down to just the trespass issue.”

The amendment reduces the crime to trespassing and property damage as long as the property owner posts signs warning away trespassers.

The bill would also clarify the definition of criminal trespassing.

Non-criminal examples include someone asking for directions or a Girl Scout selling cookies.

Holdman said several organizations that were originally against the bill – including the Hoosier State Press Association – no longer opposed it with the amended language.

“Since I’ve fought very hard against this bill in different versions, I appreciate the fact that Sen. Holdman has worked with opponents and people who were critical of parts of the bill to correct it and turned it into something that has some value,” said Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington.

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