McCrory vetoes 'ag-gag' bill

Posted May 29, 2015

Protestors gather outside the state Capitol on May 27, 2015 to ask Gov. Pat McCrory to veto the Ag-Gag bill.

— Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday vetoed a bill that would curb undercover investigations of workplaces, siding with animal rights groups and the AARP, which said it would block employees from blowing the whistle on malfeasance in workplaces ranging from factory farms to nursing homes.

Dubbed an "ag-gag" measure by Mercy for Animals, the Humane Society and other groups, the measure sought to curb the practice of obtaining a job in order to film or steal information rather than actually seeking employment.

"This practice is unethical and unfair to employers, and is a particular problem for our agricultural industry," McCrory said in a statement to announce his veto.

But both McCrory and opponents of House Bill 405 said the measure could stop honest employees from coming forward when they spot illegal or unethical activity.

"House Bill 405 will create new risks for workers, older adults, families and children because it extends to all industries, including nursing homes, hospitals, group homes, medical practices, charter and private schools, day care centers and so forth," according to a statement issued by a spokesman for AARP.

McCrory cited similar concerns in his veto message.

"I am concerned that subjecting these employees to potential civil penalties will create an environment that discourages them from reporting illegal activities," he said, citing provisions that would allow an employer to sue for damages against whistleblowers.

McCrory pointed out that he on Tuesday signed Burt's Law, which encourage workers at mental health group homes to come forward if they see sexual abuse taking place.

"In good conscience, I cannot sign Burt’s Law and then in the same week turn around and sign contradictory legislation," he said. "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."

Legislative backers of the bill responded to McCrory's veto message with disappointment.

"Property protection is a serious issue that faces North Carolina companies of all sizes every single day ... and currently, weak laws in our state put businesses and the privacy of their customers at serious risk,” bill sponsor Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland, said in a statement. "The bill is narrowly focused on illegal activities not on infringing on the liberties of whistleblowers or press.

"I am extremely disappointed in Gov. McCrory’s decision to veto a bill that defends private property rights and puts teeth into our trespass laws – and one that received broad, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate," Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, said in a statement. "I plan to do all I can to encourage my legislative colleagues to override the veto and ensure this important bill is enacted into law."

Even if the bill is re-drafted as McCrory wishes, it may not assuage the concerns of journalism organizations and animal rights groups, which fear they could be face lawsuits for exposing misdeeds to the public rather than reporting to the "proper authorities."

In order to override a veto, lawmakers would have to muster a three-fifths of those voting in both the House and the Senate. House Bill 405 easily cleared that threshold in both chambers when it initially passed. It's unclear whether McCrory's objections could muster new opposition to the bill.

The veto was the second in two days for McCrory. On Thursday, he sent Senate Bill 2 back to lawmakers, saying public employees need to carry out the duties of their offices. The bill would have given magistrates and some county employees opposed to same-sex marriage a way to avoid issuing marriage licenses to and presiding over the weddings of gay couples.


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  • Sam Nada May 30, 2015
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    Agreed, but they're just a symptom of the real problem, which is the voters who put them there.

  • Victor Cruz-Saez May 30, 2015
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    I am more concerned about the lunatics in the GA than the governor.

  • Tammy Rush May 30, 2015
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    Maybe the Tea Party will primary him; if that's the case he'll need the independent votes. I'd like to think he vetoed this because it was the right thing to do.

  • Roger Chance May 30, 2015
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    Go Pat. Definitely the right thing to do.
    Education action far outstripped Jim Hunt, who was the darling of the liberal left NCAE.
    As far as entitlements, let's help folks find a job instead of becoming increasingly dependent on the government. Democrats disguise political control as charity.

  • Aanritsen Deur May 29, 2015
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    If this was only about re-election, IMO it's too late for that because some of us have very good longgg memories, and while we're happy about this, we won't forget what he did to the poor and unemployed of this state as soon as he took office.

  • Aanritsen Deur May 29, 2015
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    Thank you!
    Whether bad actors or honest employees, animals should always receive humane treatment, even when being processed for food (and yes, there is a way to do that).

  • Hondo Creech May 29, 2015
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    You'd think Pat was trying to get reelected. Smart move on his part

  • William Patterson May 29, 2015
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    wow ...finally an act of decency from our Governor...Thank You Pat McCrory

  • Melissa Noderer May 29, 2015
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    Wonders cease! Two vetoes in two days.
    The Gov got it right again today with the veto of the Ag-gag bill.
    What a contradiction it would have been to support "Burt's" bill and puppy mill legislation, but sign into law a bill that would penalize whistleblowers.

    Frankly ( to use one of McCroy's favorite words), I amazed he had the guts to go against Berger and Moore. Good for the Governor.

  • Paul Blart May 29, 2015
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    Wow. I never thought I'd see this happen. Maybe all Republicans aren't angry and crazy?