Governor signs law to prevent undercover reports on animals

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed into law a bill designed to prosecute people who get hired at a farm in order to work undercover to report on animal living conditions.

The bill was approved by the Senate and House on Tuesday and signed into law by Reynolds on Thursday. It creates a trespass charge for undercover investigators.

An animal welfare group that successfully sued the state for a previous ag-gag law says it will sue again to challenge the new law’s constitutionality.

Matthew Liebman, director of litigation for The Animal Legal Defense Fund, says that like its predecessor the new law violates the free speech rights of investigative journalists and undercover investigators.

The measure comes just two months after a federal judge struck down an Iowa law passed in 2012 that the court concluded violated free-speech rights. 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.

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