Under the Dome

Women’s groups oppose HB405 over human trafficking concerns

Another group has joined the opposition to the Property Protection Act, as House Bill 405 is known.

It’s also known as the “ag-gag” bill for its provision discouraging activists’ and reporters’ undercover investigations of animal abuse at farms.

Animal welfare groups are opposed, but so is the AARP, which contends exposing abuses at nursing homes would be curtailed. Wounded veterans oppose the bill for the same reason. Labor is also opposed, for putting whistleblowing employees in a jam.

Now state domestic violence and women’s rights agencies have come out against it because they say it could prevent the discovery and prosecution of human trafficking for sex and labor exploitation. The N.C. Council for Women and the Domestic Violence Commission say human traffickers have been stopped through the use of hidden cameras and records.

Both entities are part of Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration.

The bill would allow employers to sue employees who get hired for the purpose of exposing workplace abuses, and forbid the use of hidden recording devices. It is also aimed at preventing theft of merchandise, data and records, and the N.C. Chamber says opponents have mischaracterized the purpose of the legislation. Business interests say the intention is to prevent organized theft and corporate espionage.

The governor vetoed the bill last week, saying it didn’t sufficiently protect legitimate whistleblowers. The House scheduled a possible override vote on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Humane Society of the U.S. is keeping up the pressure, which includes a flurry of celebrity tweets.

Professional race car driver Leilani Munter, who lives in Cornelius, tweeted that she plans to be at the legislative building over the next two days to encourage lawmakers not to override the veto. She competes in the Automobile Racing Club of America stock car series.

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