State senators are considering changes to a bill that would set new penalties for videotaping Iowa livestock operations without permission. 

The House passed the legislation in mid-March, voting to send those convicted of secretly videotaping a livestock confinement to prison for up to a decade. Key senators say they want to ensure the law doesn’t get challenged on constitutional grounds, so they’re drafting changes.  Senator Joe Seng, a Democrat from Davenport, is also a veterinarian.

“I had asked the (Attorney General’s) office, the county attorneys to see if this bill…was too all-encompassing or what,” Seng says. “I wanted them to get it down into the form that it was a do-able bill as far as it had teeth in it that they could prosecute with.” 

Senator Tom Rielly, a Democrat from Oskaloosa, says when he was in college he worked at an egg-processing plant and he sympathizes with those who’re concerned that people sneaking into barns can spread diseases that kill the animals.

“And I have seen first-hand really the bio-care that comes into protecting the cleanliness,” he says. 

Without debate, the Senate Ag Committee unanimously endorsed the bill this afternoon, but Rielly promises changes will be made in the legislation when it’s debated next week in the full, 50-member senate.