Washington State Mulling Its Own Ag-Gag Bill

by

GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
Idaho's neighbor to the west is set to consider a bill that would criminalize unauthorized recordings of agricultural operations, though Republicans at the State Legislature in Olympia, Wash., have said that the bill is unlikely to make it to the floor for a full vote, the Spokesman-Review reports

The bill, sponsored by Washington State Rep. Joe Schmick (R-Colfax), would create the new crime of "interference with agricultural production." Proponents of the bill, including Rep. Dan Griffey (R-Alynn), who sits on the House Public Safety Committee, called it a "no-brainer."

But the bill has little support from Democrats in the legislature, who said the criminal activity addressed the bill is already illegal under trespass and vandalism statutes. House Republican leaders told the Spokesman-Review that they haven't polled members on the bill because they worry Democrats, who are in the majority in the House, are unlikely to send the bill to the floor for a full vote. 

In 2014, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed a similar bill into law. The so-called "Ag-Gag Bill" quickly drew legal challenges that are ongoing based on what critics described as its conflicts with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.