Raleigh, N.C. — As House Speaker Tim Moore prepares to try to override the governor's veto of House Bill 405, which some opponents call the "ag-gag" bill, the Humane Society is targeting him back in his district.
The group took out a full-page ad Wednesday in the Shelby Star newspaper, asking readers to contact Moore to voice their disapproval of the legislation, entitled the "Property Protection Act," which would allow employers to sue employees who take video or audio in areas of the workplace they're not authorized to enter and then give that information to anyone aside from "authorities."
Backers of the legislation, including the North Carolina Chamber, say it's intended to protect employers from corporate espionage, organized retail theft or people who seek employment with the purpose of obtaining and revealing information about a workplace. But critics, including Gov. Pat McCrory, say it goes too far because it doesn't exempt employees who uncover evidence of actual wrongdoing.
AARP, one of the bill's most prominent opponents, said the legislation "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."
In his veto message May 29, McCrory specifically cited the bill's lack of protection for whistleblowers.
"I am concerned that subjecting these employees to potential civil penalties will create an environment that discourages them from reporting illegal activities," he said.
The Humane Society's ad against Moore calls the bill a "cruelty cover-up," saying it "would cover up the abuse of vulnerable North Carolinians, including elders in nursing homes, veterans in hospitals, children in day cares and animals in puppy mills."
Veterans' groups have also voiced opposition to the bill, as have domestic violence and women's groups.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, House Minority Leader Larry Hall predicted the House would override the veto but said he would vote to sustain it.
Hall, D-Durham, said the state already has laws on the books to deal with corporate espionage and theft. He said lawmakers have already gutted the state's ability to inspect and enforce regulations in workplaces and is now seeking to "tie the hands of the people" most likely to see violations.
"This was a bill that was not needed," Hall said. "This is overkill. This is over the top."