Opponents of Senate Bill 1337—the so-called "Ag-Gag" bill—delivered a message more than 113,000 signatures strong to the office of Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter this morning.
In four white boxes, labeled "Veto Ag-Gag," were the names of petition requesting the governor to veto the bill, which would criminalize unauthorized videotaping or photography at Idaho's dairies and farms. Animal rights and free speech advocates across the state collected the signatures in the few weeks since the bill was introduced. Otter, however, wasn't at his office to greet them.
"I was disappointed he wasn't here, but I was excited—I was nervous," said Elham Marder, a member of the small contingent that delivered the petition.
Marder said she opposes SB 1337 as a citizen concerned with freedom of speech and the welfare of animals.
"I'm a citizen and a resident and I think the bill is unconstitutional and I'm offended by it," she said.
Soon after the petitioners arrived at the governor's office, Claudia, Otter's office manager, came in to receive them.
"I'll probably get a wheelbarrow," she said. "We will get them into the proper hands."
Earlier this week, Boise Weekly spoke with Mercy for Animals Director of Investigations Matt Rice, who decried the Idaho bill as an affront to First Amendment liberties. Later, Mercy for Animals staged a rally that brought about 60 people to the Capitol steps voicing their disagreement with the bill.