Blocked by court defeat, Iowa lawmakers push new ag-gag bill

The new bill creates a trespass charge for anyone using deception to gain access to a farm to cause physical or economic harm.

Posted: Mar. 10, 2019 11:20 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Just two months after a federal court judge struck down Iowa's existing law meant to discourage investigations of animal abuse on farms, lawmakers are pushing another so-called ag-gag measure that opponents say would likely land them in court again.

The new bill creates a trespass charge for anyone using deception to gain access to a farm to cause physical or economic harm. It carries a penalty of up to a year in jail.

Sen. Ken Rozenboom, the Republican who will manage Senate floor debate, says it is more narrowly focused than the 2012 law struck down by the court in January and was crafted after other state laws that have survived court challenges.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, which sued over the 2012 law, says the bill under consideration also is unconstitutional and the group is prepared to challenge it in court.

Court documents show plaintiff legal fees in the previous lawsuit exceed $200,000, but the state has appealed to the federal appeals court so costs continue to mount.

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