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House passes first measure of session, bars ‘revenge porn’

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Arizona’s House of Representatives passed its first measure of the session which bars so-called “revenge porn” with unusual swiftness Wednesday.

The measure passed unanimously with one legislator not voting. Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, sponsored the bill for a third time. The bill makes it a crime to share nude photos of another person with intent to harm that person.

Mesnard said he fast tracked House Bill 2001, which received bipartisan support during the last legislative session, because the Senate adjourned before taking a procedural vote that would have sent the bill to Gov. Doug Ducey.

“We are fast tracking it because of the importance of this issue,” Mesnard said Wednesday. “The truth is this bill went through the process. It passed unanimously out of the chamber last year, and in essence, we fumbled on the one-yard line.”

Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, and Stephanie Mach, D-Tucson, shared concerns during debate that the bill was receiving special treatment and should start the entire process over again, though both legislators voted for the measure.

“There are a lot of bills that die in the process all the time for different reasons,” Farnsworth said. “In my opinion, I think it should go back to committee just like every other bill.”

House Bill 2001 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

A 2014 version of the measure, which became law, faced a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union and two other groups over First Amendment concerns. The law was put on hold under an agreement between the attorney general and the groups that sued.

That matter was resolved last year when Mesnard added language clarifying that the images would have to be shared with the intent to harm the person in the photos.

“Under previous iterations it criminalized anyone who published or distributed a nude image without the consent of the person,” said Will Gaona, ACLU policy director. “The most recent version narrows its application and gets behind the behavior it was intended to address.”

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said he’s aware of cases that would have been prosecuted if the law had been in place and that the county will be able to move forward with cases once it is passed. The law would only affect those who commit a crime after the law is in place, he said.

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