PA State House Judiciary Committee: NO on HB683!

I have started a petition to the PA House. Please consider signing it:

PA House Bill 683 (HB683: Haluska, Metzgar, Barrar, M. K. Keller, Hess, Moul, Fleck, C. Harris And Murt, February 12, 2013), like similar legislation in other US states, is not well-thought out. It will limit whistle-blowing, and keep the public unaware of food safety problems, animal abuse and poor/dangerous working conditions on factory farms. It’s benefit to our food safety and farm workers is unclear.

The more nefarious sections of HB683 appear to be almost copied and pasted from the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) model bill entitled the “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act.” You be the judge:

Web text of PA HB683:

Web text of ALEC model bill Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act, Appendix A, page 21:

Click to access alec_animal_ecological_terrorism_bill.pdf

Remember the 2008 investigation of a dairy cow slaughter plant in Chino, California? It prompted the largest meat recall in U.S. history, identified fraud on the federal government’s school lunch program, and resulted in criminal convictions. HB683 would criminalize only the workers who expose such crimes. HB683 would do nothing to protect We The People from the cruelty, contaminants, and fraud.

Further, with the increase in gas drilling in PA, HB683 is doubly troubling: Line 9 on page 1 defines the proposed second and third degree felonies as those “Interfering with agricultural operations.” But Lines 9-11 on page 3 too broadly define “Agricultural operations” as “Any public or private property where an agricultural activity or farming is conducted or takes place.” This includes the sites of much of PA’s gas drilling, storage and transfer activities. Citizen activism is an increasingly important tool for We The People to find out about gas-related crimes and pollution. HB683 would seemingly outlaw reporting on these threats to our air, water and dirt.

HB683 is before the House Judiciary Committee, on which local (south central PA) Reps Marsico, Grell and Delozier sit. If one of them is your Rep, please tell them NO on HB683.

In “Taping of Farm Cruelty Is Becoming the Crime”, Published by the New York Times: April 6, 2013 we read how the intent of these ALEC-modeled bills is already law in Iowa, Utah and Missouri:

“At the first sign of animal cruelty, we’d have to pull our investigator out, and we wouldn’t be able to build a case that leads to charges,” said Matt Dominguez, who works on farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States.

For all PA people: I have started a petition to the PA House. Please consider signing it:

How important is it to stop this?  MT, UT, ND, KS, IA and MO have already banned the rights of its citizens to whistle blow on anything occurring on “farmlands”.  Let’s not be next:

Status of US Ag Gag Laws

Status of US Ag Gag Laws

About steventodd

Both parties are broken by big money...what to do? I'm a dad, husband, son, taxpayer, voter, civil engineer, reporter, blogger, rabble-rouser and honest guy.
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19 Responses to PA State House Judiciary Committee: NO on HB683!

  1. steventodd says:

    93 signatures today…thanks all. I guarantee the petition will be delivered to the Judiciary Committee if/when they hold a mtg on this.


  2. steventodd says:

    210 signatures so far. This is a nice steady climb, I am very pleased with all your activism. I think I will forward a copy now to Rep Jesse White, for a little feedback. Rep White sits on Judiciary. I will share what he offers. Thanks, all!


  3. Pingback: Arresting Monet – AG-GAG Pennsylvania House Bill 683

  4. steventodd says:

    The link above is to’s Dory Hippauf’s blog. Dory is one of the longest-running and tireless bloggers of the connections between fracking and ALEC undermining our democratic republic. She has picked up my blog and petition. Her blog would certainly have more regular readers than mine, so I anticipate this huge windfall to increase my petition’s signatures.

    In Dory’s words: “Steve Todd’s PA State House Judiciary Committee: NO on HB683, February 26, 2013 article includes a petition to stop HB683 in its tracks.  Sign it or be careful on your Sunday drives and where you point your camera.  That picturesque photo of your family standing next to some cows, or the one of the brilliant autumn foliage with a farm in the distance.” Thank you for your continuing work to protect the USA for our kids, Dory.


  5. steventodd says:

    People are starting to connect the dots, folks. Of the 193 unique visits to my blog yesterday, and 22 so far today, here are the top search queries which led them to it.

    pa house bill 683, history of opposition to pa house bill 238, pa hb683 alec, hb 683, alec

    287 signatures so far…keep it up.

    Rep White did contact me back and said the following, actually via FB post, where all can see. Gotta love a public servant who actually does things in public. Thank you, Jesse.

    Rep Jesse White on my FB page: “Thanks for the heads-up on this issue. I will keep my eye on this bill in case they try to run it out of committee.”


  6. Please, read about the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. It is quite a stunning read. If you like horror books, you will love this.

    Click to access Hydraulic-Fracturing-Chemicals-2011-4-18.pdf


    • steventodd says:

      I am very familiar with the chemicals O&G is shooting into our ground, beneath our groundwater, at 9,000 psi, of which only some returns. But it is nice to be reminded that some in Congress actually care enough to look. Thanks for sharing.


      • Bret Jennings says:

        The drilling mud used in just drilling the well or directional drilling for pipelines may contain a powdered mixture that is asbestos containing (greater than 1%), but it also depends on the manufacture. Some just see it as a risk others see the thermal properties as a benefit. There has been lawsuits over this from workers.

        Councillor, Great Bend Borough
        Vice Chairman, Hallstead Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority
        NYS DOL asbestos inspector #06-16512


      • steventodd says:

        Bret’s comment ties in nicely to my pending analysis of SB411: while both an Acid Mine Drainage waterway and a Fracking operator may benefit from reuse of mine influenced water, the benefit to the citizens downstream is dubious, and maybe non-existent. “benefit” is a relative term when it comes to use of any resource.


  7. Pingback: Say NO to PA House Bill 683 - damascus citizens for sustainability

  8. steventodd says:

    I am honored and humbled that Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS) has cross-linked my blog, in the pingback link above!!! This is huge folks. For those who don’t know, this is Barbara Arrindell’s group, who originally funded GASLAND. They were warning us about this back when most of us (me, anyway) were still asking: “now, what is this fracking stuff, again?” 351 signatures later, and we’ve just begun taping possibly the largest group of fracktivists in one place. Thank you DCS!!!


  9. Mary Richardson says:

    Stop doing the fracking until u know what the oppositional horror of this and the alternatives that are much environmently safe to us and the earth.


  10. steventodd says:

    Our petition has been mentioned in the excellent article “Bill would limit whistleblower activities on PA farms,” By Natasha Khan | PublicSource | March 21, 2013


  11. steventodd says:

    Excellent comment, #649 Shawn B Domenico Mar 22, 2013 Pittsburgh, PA:
    “All progressives must strongly oppose this bill. Hopefully, conservatives will see it for the false choice it really is: legal protection for polluters and profiteers. The bill should never escape committee.”


  12. Pingback: Ways and Memes: PA Lawmakers Seek To Ban Photography of Gas Drilling Activity | Keep Tap Water Safe

  13. Pingback: From Protecting Our Waters: Ways and Memes: PA Lawmakers Seek To Ban Photography Of Gas Drilling Activity | Shale Justice

  14. steventodd says:

    Update on HB683 petition. There are currently over 810 signers.

    Representative Gary Haluska is the Prime Sponsor, and the sole Democratic sponsor of HB683. I stopped into Rep Haluska’s office on April 9. I was told he was in session, so I handed the 58 pages of PA signatures to Marylin at his front desk, with the following message on the cover page, which also had the petition:

    Honorable Representative Haluska: The following are the PA signers of our petition which appears here: (link followed)

    It has 785 signatures to date. The petition will be presented to the Judiciary Committee, should it hear HB683, and then again to the full PA House membership, and finally to the full General Assembly, if it comes to vote. Please remove your name from sponsorship, as you are the sole Democrat sponsor. Thank you for your consideration,

    Steve Todd, PE, LEED AP (full contact info followed on Rep Haluska’s copy).


  15. steventodd says:

    UPDATE: “Please remove your name from sponsorship (of ALEC Anti-Whistleblower Pennsylvania House Bill 683), as you are the sole Democrat sponsor,” wrote Steve Todd, the author of the petition. Todd, an environmental engineer and citizen blogger from Dauphin County, gathered the signatures for the online petition.

    Todd said he delivered a copy of the petition to Haluska’s Harrisburg office on April 15.

    The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee and it’s unclear when it will be heard by committee chairs, according to (Rep. Gary Haluska, D-Cambria).


    He told PublicSource in a telephone interview that he has no intention of pulling sponsorship of his bill.”’s-sponsor-kill-bill


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