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Letter: This bill violates the Constitution

I have practiced animal law for seven years. I assist numerous animal cruelty investigations and prosecutions statewide. House Bill 110, which changes New Hampshire cruelty laws, needs to be stopped.

This bill violates our constitutional rights. Anyone who witnesses intentional animal cruelty to livestock must report it to law enforcement within 48 hours. Failure to report would be a criminal violation against the witness. The witness receives no immunity from civil or criminal actions. This violates the Fifth Amendment, forcing them to incriminate themselves. Only the actor is granted immunity under HB 110, and only his or her Fifth Amendment right is protected. Did you know this would be the only crime a New Hampshire resident would have the duty to report?

This also violates the First Amendment’s right to free speech. The U.S. Supreme Court has protected depictions of animal cruelty under the freedom of speech. HB 110 will have a chilling effect on constitutionally protected free speech and is therefore, unconstitutional.

Finally, HB 110 jeopardizes animal cruelty investigations and prosecution. Law enforcement and prosecutors could lose evidence and the ability to pursue felony level charges. Ag-gag bill or not, HB 110 violates your constitutional rights. If the goal is to protect livestock, let’s write a better bill. HB 110 is bad law. Both the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union and the media coalition strongly oppose HB 110.

Please protect your constitutional rights and tell your legislators to vote “No” on HB 110 in January.

PATRICIA MORRIS

Center Barnstead

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