Last week, I introduced LB915, which changes the statutes relating to reports of animal abuse. Current law requires certain employees to report criminal animal abuse, but LB915 expands this requirement to all persons. LB915 also requires that the report be made within 12 hours of the suspected abuse and that any documentation be turned over to authorities with the person’s report. The penalty for failing to report these incidents is also increased significantly. LB915 also includes a new criminal offense, which criminalizes obtaining employment at an animal facility with the intent to disrupt the operations of the business. Animal facilities include any place an animal is maintained for agricultural production, exhibitions and education facilities, and businesses which transport animals.
This bill is intended to protect agricultural businesses from attacks by animal activist groups, like the Humane Society of the United States. By requiring reporting by all persons, a group like HSUS cannot collect information about a potential animal abuse crime that has taken place and then keep it to use it for its own propaganda, but rather would be required to submit this evidence to the appropriate authorities to investigate the abuse. This approach ensures that any perpetrators of animal abuse are properly investigated and that the welfare of the animals is the top priority, rather than fundraising or lobbying efforts by groups like HSUS. Tactics such as infiltrating an agricultural business to disrupt its operations also cannot be allowed, and LB915 also addresses this concern.
On January 12, Governor Dave Heineman reported to the Legislature with his annual State of the State address as well. Governor Heineman focused on the need for work on the state’s child welfare system as well as streamlining the Department of Labor and the Department of Economic Development by combining the two departments. Governor Heineman’s main focus was tax relief for middle class Nebraskans and the elimination of inheritance taxes.
Senator Tyson Larson