Andy Holt (Tennessee politician)
Andy Holt (born December 22, 1981) is an U.S. politician who serves in the Tennessee General Assembly, representing District 76. Holt is a Republican and currently serves as the vice-chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and as a member of the Local Government Committee and of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.
Holt represents the residents of Weakley, Obion, and part of Carroll County. He served his first term in Tennessee’s 107th General Assembly (2011-2012) and was re-elected to the 108th General Assembly (2013-2014).
Andy Holt is married to Ellie Anderson Holt, with whom he has five children.  The Holts own and operate a farm near Dresden, Tennessee. Their farming operation includes “contract swine finishing” and raising cattle and goats for meat production.
Holt also works for Bethel University and is a member of the Weakley County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.
Representative Holt earned an MBA from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 2007. He earned his B.S. in 2004 from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Holt majored in agricultural economics and business with an animal-science minor.
Representative Holt introduced fourteen bills in Tennessee’s 108th General Assembly. The bills impacted laws ranging from taxes, county road supervisors, criminal procedure, and agricultural operations.
Of the two bills impacting agricultural operations that were introduced by Holt, one gained national attention. Holt’s HB 1191 (and companion SB 1248 introduced by Senator Dolores R. Gresham (R-26)) required anyone intentionally recording images documenting cruelty against livestock to, within 48 hours, report the violation and submit unedited photographs or video recordings to law enforcement. The bill made violation of the law a class C misdemeanor punishable by fine.
This type of bill, sometimes characterized as “anti-whistleblower” or “ag-gag” legislation, sparked heated public discourse. Rep. Holt asserted that the bill was intended to quickly expose animal cruelty. However, animal protection organizations, such as the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States, and Mercy for Animals opposed the bill, arguing that it would instead result in short, incomplete investigations and prevent whistleblowers from coming forward, for fear of prosecution.
In public debate over HB 1191 after it passed and before it was signed into law by the governor, Rep. Holt sent an email to HSUS Public Policy Coordinator Kayci McLeod saying that "propagandist groups of radical animal activists, like your fraudulent and reprehensibly disgusting organization of maligned animal abuse profiteering corporatists ... are intent on using animals the same way human-traffickers use 17 year old women," and referring to HSUS methods as "tape and rape".
Rep. Holt also debated the issue, via Twitter, with country singer Carrie Underwood. Underwood criticized Tennessee lawmakers saying “Shame on TN lawmakers for passing the Ag Gag bill. If Gov. Bill Haslam signs this, he needs to expect me at his front door. Who’s with me?” Holt replied, “I would say that if Carrie Underwood will stick to singing, I’ll stick to lawmaking.” Underwood, in turn replied “I should stick to singing? Wow…sorry, I’m just a tax paying citizen concerned for the safety of my family.”
On May 13, 2013, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam indicated that he would veto the bill because the Attorney General called the law "constitutionally suspect", because it appears to repeal parts of Tennessee's Shield Law without saying so, and because "there are concerns from some district attorneys that the act actually makes it more difficult to prosecute animal cruelty cases".
- "Tennessee General Assembly". Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "Tennessee Republican Party Candidate Spotlight". Tennessee Republican Party. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "Holt Family Farms". Holt Family Farms. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "Representative Holt, 76th Representative District". Tennessee General Assembly. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "HB 1191 by *Holt. (SB 1248 by *Gresham.)". Tennessee General Assembly. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- Southwell, Tara. "Bill of the Week: Tennessee HB 1191/SB 1248". AVMA. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- Gordon, Carley (May 3, 2013). "Carrie Underwood appeals to Haslam to veto animal abuse bill". WSMV-TV. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- Hall, Heidi (April 26, 2013). ""Tennessee rep's email calls Humane Society methods 'tape and rape'"". Tennessean. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "Carrie Underwood Furious Over 'Ag Gag'; Bill's Sponsor, Andy Holt, Says She Should 'Stick To Singing'". Huffington Post. April 24, 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- Sher, Andy (May 13, 2013). "Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam vetoing 'ag gag' bill". Chatanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved 15 July 2013.