North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory vetoes 'ag-gag' bill

Governor Pat McCrory

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has vetoed a bill that would allow businesses to sue employees who secretly record animal abuse or other illegal activity.

"While I support the purpose of this bill, I believe it does not adequately protect or give clear guidance to honest employees who uncover criminal activity. I am concerned that subjecting these employees to potential civil penalties will create an environment that discourages them from reporting illegal activities," said McCrory.

Several groups had come out in opposition to North Carolina House Bill 405 - also known as the "ag-gag" bill. It doesn't just apply to farms. It also applies to other businesses like restaurants and daycares.

Secret recordings have been repeatedly used in the state by animal rights groups to expose mistreatment on farms. Some of the investigations have led to criminal charges.

The AARP also called on McCrory to veto the bill saying it cast too wide a net and potentially would prevent employees from reporting problems in "nursing homes, hospitals, group homes, medical practices, charter and private schools, daycare centers, and so forth."

"AARP applauds Governor McCrory for vetoing HB 405. This bill has many unintended negative consequences on older adults, families and children. When it comes to protecting the health and safety of our loved ones, we agree with the Governor that we need to create an environment that does not discourage people from reporting illegal activities," the group said in a statement.

Animal rights groups also thanked McCrory.

"We applaud Gov. McCrory for standing up for the principles of promoting transparency and rooting out cruelty, whether to animals or to veterans or to senior citizens. The Humane Society of the United States thanks him for vetoing this overreaching and dangerous bill, which was more about covering up bad actors than anything else," offered Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.

"Today is a great day for animals in North Carolina and nationwide. Governor McCrory has restored faith in North Carolina's political system by listening to the will of his constituents and vetoing the dangerous and un-American ag-gag bill," said Nathan Runkle, President of Mercy For Animals.

Mercy for Animals has used secret recordings to expose animal abuse.

Supporters say the law is needed to protect against employment fraud, but critics say it puts business's right to privacy above the public's right to know.

Despite vetoing the bill, the Governor expressed sympathy for businesses who want to prevent secret filming on their property.

"This bill is intended to address a valid concern of our state's businesses - how to discourage those bad actors who seek employment with the intent to engage in corporate espionage or act as an undercover investigator. This practice is unethical and unfair to employers, and is a particular problem for our agricultural industry. It needs to be stopped," said McCrory.

"I encourage the General Assembly to reconsider this bill as soon as possible and add protections for those employees who report illegal activities directly and confidentially to the proper authorities. I stand ready to work with legislators during this process, and I am very optimistic that we can reach a solution that addresses the concerns of our North Carolina employers while still protecting honest employees," McCrory continued.

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