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VOL. 37 | NO. 14 | Friday, April 05, 2013

Cock fighting bill dead this session

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NASHVILLE (AP) — The Senate sponsor of legislation to make cock fighting a felony says he believes his bill failed Monday evening because of strong support for the practice in rural parts of Tennessee.

The proposal sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro received a vote of 15-8, short of the 17 votes needed to receive a majority.

Under the bill, a first offense for cock fighting would have remained a misdemeanor. But a second offense would be considered a felony punishable by six years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000.

"You eliminate bingo in churches ... and it's OK to turn a blind eye to this?" Ketron told reporters after the vote. "These guys get all riled up out in these rural areas, and they start calling and putting pressure on their members, and it scares them. Are you a cock or are you a chicken?"

Opponents of the legislation say it didn't specifically say that raising such chickens would not be a crime and could cause problems for farmers and others in the poultry business.

"There's a lot of concern about this bill in the agriculture community," said Sen. Charlotte Burks, a Monterey Democrat who owns a farm. "Our farmers have to be careful."

Ketron said he's not sure if he'll try again next year.