Ohio Mulls Tougher Ecoterrorism Penalties

Law would make vandalism against 'eco'-targets have harsher penalties

A Washington state law against damaging animal laboratories has a separate declaration that it gives "full consideration to the constitutional rights of persons to speak freely, to picket, and to conduct other lawful activities."

Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed Arizona's bill in March as too broad.

Nathan Runkle, head of Mercy for Animals, a Columbus-based animal rights group that has videotaped conditions at egg farms, said he fears Ohio's bill would infringe on lawful, peaceful demonstrations.

Activists had the same concerns before the California law took effect in January 2004. The San Diego-based Animal Protection and Rescue League had filmed ducks and geese being force-fed several pounds of corn mush to fatten their livers for foie gras. The video helped a successful campaign for the state to outlaw force-feeding.

The group is still taping and protesting a year later, member Kath Rogers said. "It hasn't really affected us too much," she said. "It's pretty much a misdemeanor either way."