Iowa lawmakers pass bill that would prosecute undercover puppy mill investigators

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Legislature has sent to the governor a bill designed to prosecute people who get hired at a farm or puppy mill in order to record animal living conditions.

The bill approved by both the Senate and House on Tuesday would create a trespass charge for undercover investigators at such operations. The bill, approved by the Senate 41-8 and the House 65-32, now goes to Gov. Kim Reynolds. A spokesman says she wants to see its final form but intends to sign it.

The bill approval comes two months after a federal judge struck down an ag-gag law passed in 2012 because the court concluded it violated free-speech rights of undercover investigators. That ruling is on appeal.

The 2012 law was approved following high-profile undercover investigations by animal welfare groups who videotaped practices they claimed were abusive toward animals and then publicized the images.

Republican Sen. Ken Rozenboom says the new bill is more narrowly focused on those who use deception to intentionally cause harm to an operation.

A spokesman for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, one of the groups that previously sued the state, says the group is prepared to file another lawsuit if necessary.

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