Senator Gardenhire Says HUS Used "Ag-Gag" Bill Fight "As A Great Fundraising Tool"

Monday, May 13, 2013
Senator Todd Gardenhire
Senator Todd Gardenhire

State Senator Todd Gardenhire told members of the Pachyderm Club on Monday that the Humane Society of the United States got in late on the fight against the "Ag-Gag" bill.

He said there was not much heard from the HUS when the Legislature was considering the controversial bill that set penalties against those who take pictures or videos of alleged animal abuse and then don't turn it into law enforcement within 48 hours.

But he said the HUS came out in full force after there was a push to get Governor Bill Haslam to  veto it.

He told the club he hoped the governor would let the bill stand, but Governor Haslam later in the day vetoed it.

Senator Gardenhire said the HUS used the issue "as a great fundraising tool."

He said there was an email campaign by the HUS against the bill. He said over two-thirds of the emails he got saying "I live in Tennessee" and oppose the bill were actually from out of state. He said he could tell that from the emails. He said the HUS instructed, "Tell them you're from Tennessee."

Senator Gardenhire said a witness against the bill turned out to be "a pig farmer." He said he asked him what happened to the pigs at the end of the process, and he admitted they were "slaughtered."

He said the bill was "probably the most misunderstood" piece of legislation this session.

The speaker said those with videos of alleged animal abuse should be anxious to turn it over quickly "and let law enforcement decide if it's a crime or it's not a crime."

Senator Gardenhire, who said he has been a motorcyclist for over 50 years, said he favored a bill to require motorcyclists to wear helmets because they sometimes get brain trauma and the hospital bill can be as high as $2.5 million. He said taxpayers wind up footing much of that bill.

He said he was involved in a bill to set up a "gang-free district" near schools and to give stiff penalties to gang members involved in gang activity within the zone.

Senator Gardenhire said on one bill he wound up on the side of trial lawyers and against the Farm Bureau that had helped him during the election.

He said he was also invading the "holy grail of politics" by taking on such groups as teachers, fire and police and veterans on another issue.

The speaker said over the years a continuing number of groups have been added to the list to those who get discounts on college tuition in Tennessee. He said the state pays a portion of the amount, but the universities have a high expense.

He said it costs UTC and Chattanooga State $1.8 million last year. 

The overall cost is over $14 million.

Senator Gardenhire said he got in trouble one time during the session when he was quoted it was "another way to skin a cat." He said animal activists came after him.

During the speech he referred at one point to killing two birds with one stone."

An audience member jokingly asked, "Why do you hate animals?" 

 

 

 

  


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