RALEIGH, NC – North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed a bill that would have criminalized covert investigations at livestock operations. At least seven states have passed so-called ‘ag-gag’ laws, while a number of other states are considering similar legislation.

McCrory vetoed the bill because he thought it was too broad and risked discouraging employee reports of animal cruelty.

“This bill is intended to address a valid concern of our state’s businesses — how to discourage those bad actors who seek employment with the intent to engage in corporate espionage or act as an undercover investigator,” McCrory said in a statement. “This practice is unethical and unfair to employers, and is a particular problem for our agricultural industry. It needs to be stopped.

“While I support the purpose of this bill, I believe it does not adequately protect or give clear guidance to honest employees who uncover criminal activity,” he added. “I am concerned that subjecting these employees to potential civil penalties will create an environment that discourages them from reporting illegal activities.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed an ‘ag-gag’ bill that would have forced anyone taking undercover video or pictures of animal abuse to give the images to law enforcement within 48 hours. Haslam vetoed the bill on similar concerns about a conflict with the First Amendment and state shield laws.