State Rep. Brenda Barton recently pushed HB 2587 through her committee to minimize penalties for animal cruelty perpetrators and maximize criminalization of whistleblowers. Then, in a classic bait and switch, she proclaimed that she wants to reduce animal cruelty. How clever of her!
Pretending to create a quick response to cruelty, Barton’s legislation requires that evidence of cruelty be given to authorities within five days of discovering it, otherwise the reporting person would commit a felony. This ruse makes it impossible for responsible citizens to properly document evidence of extreme cruelty on factory farms.
She removes the protection of anonymity for individuals who report the abuse, and prohibits local citizens in towns and counties from enacting laws that are more protective of animals than her proposed state law.
Her bill strips local and state police officers of the authority to investigate animal cruelty complaints involving horses and farm animals.
She turns whistleblowers into criminals by making them liable for a felony and may prohibit them from ever owning an animal of any kind.
Conversely, Barton reduces penalties on animal abusers in some cases by re-classifying their abuse from felony to misdemeanor.
Barton proposes to transfer enforcement authority to the Department of Agriculture, which has only 10 certified enforcement officers to conduct abuse investigations statewide, as compared to the thousands of law enforcement officers across the state who currently enforce animal cruelty laws. Yes, that will reduce animal abuse for sure!
Is it really a Republican goal to transfer power from local communities to state bureaucracies?
Impetus for the bill came from a national organization that is funded by the radical Republican multi-billionaire Koch brothers.
The ASPCA condemns Barton’s “legislation bill that is designed to cover up illegal and unethical activities on farms, ensuring that animal abuse is never exposed to the public or even to law enforcement authorities.”
The Arizona Humane Society opposes that Barton’s bill which “is designed to make Arizona a safe haven for massive, industrial, internationally owned corporate livestock factories that may destroy our long, rich tradition of responsible and sustainable farming.”
But why would Barton sponsor such a bill and then sheepishly claim it benefits animals? Did she not read her own bill? Is she being disingenuous? Is she just a mouthpiece for corporate farming conglomerates? Or is this an act of simple mindlessness by someone who does not understand what she is doing? And she pretends to represent us in Gila County?
I don’t know. But it sure feels like animal waste was superabundantly piled around her committee when she convinced her Republican colleagues to vote for it. It surely smells like that.