The House opened up the week with revenge porn — a bill that prohibits it, that is.
HB 2515, a bill that prohibits the unlawful distribution of private images would make it a felony to share a picture of someone nude or in a sexual act without their permission.
The bill was modeled after similar legislation in California and is built to address the phenomenon of revenge porn, in which naked photos are posted by a former friend who has become an enemy.
“It is always looming, it never ceases to harass, humiliate and oppress those that don’t want their images displayed to the world,” Rep. Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) said when he spoke in support of the bill.
In committee, some members had trouble with the language, in particular that it could ruin a person life if he or she shared a picture. Rep. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) sought to assuage fears about the bill with his amendments. Once the amendments were accepted, the members approved the bill.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to bring a bill like this forward. As technology changes, people invent new ways of hurting folks. If at the end of the day, when we send a picture to somebody in the context of a trusting relationship, we should not have to wonder what that person is going to do,” Mesnard said. The bill passed unanimously and will be sent to the Senate.
An animal cruelty bill also passed through the Senate on Monday. The bill attempts to address animal cruelty in the state but contains language that some members took issue with.
“I think the main problem with at this point is that this bill makes it a misdemeanor on the first offense to intentionally torture to death an animal and I don’t see how you can vote for that.” Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) said. This was a weak penalty, Kavanagh said, attributing that weakness to a fear of upsetting ranchers in the state, a reason which he said was unfounded.
“Nobody has ever lost their license or their farm over a conviction of animal cruelty. It just isn’t an issue at all and even if it were I’m not 100 percent sure that someone who tortures animals should own a farm.” Kavanagh said.
Despite Kavanagh’s objections, many members still supported the bill as a way to properly punish people animal cruelty. “This is common-sense legislation that helps to protect those farmers and those ranchers while still protecting against the abuse that is depraved and is forbidden.” Farnsworth said in a vote explanation that changed the mind of enough members to get the bill passed 33-24.
On Tuesday, the Democratic Caucus had to vote for a new assistant minority leader because Rep. Reuben Gallago (D-Phoenix) is resigning to campaign for Congress. The Democrats elected Rep. Bruce Wheeler (D-Tucson) to fill the role and elected Rep. Eric Meyer (D-Paradise Valley) to Wheeler’s former position of Minority Whip.
After many bills on the House and Senate floors last week, the committees began hearing more this Tuesday. The only bill heard in the House Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility committee was SB1096 — which would alter the definition of legal tender. Under this bill, coins or bullions containing gold and silver would be an authorized means of payment. The bill passed through committee 6-2.
Back from the dead… After her bill calling for an Article V convention was defeated last week, Rep. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) had the bill recalled and narrowly passed it through the House on Wednesday. The bill joins another that would grant emergency access to federal land, as the second of Townsend’s three defeated bills to be recalled and passed.
On Wednesday a gun debate took aim in the House. The debate centered on HB2339, a bill that would allow gun owners with concealed-carry permits to bring their guns into any public place, even if those places didn’t have proper gun storage.
Rep. Eddie Farnsworth (R-Gilbert) said he considered the bill an important affirmation of Second Amendment rights, saying:
“We have a right to bear arms, and prohibiting that right and restricting that right is against government. And yet when we look at who has restricted our second amendment rights it is government.”
Instead of engaging in a constitutional debate, Democrats instead tried to poke holes in the bill. Despite an amendment that excluded guns from places that sell alcohol, as well K-12 schools and universities and made sure that the bill only applied to public properties, Rep. Chad Campbell (D-Phoenix) was worried that private property owners would be forced to allow guns on their property if they were hosting public events. Rep. Debbie McCune Davis (D-Phoenix) was curious about how much it would cost the public places to get the proper gun locker facilities in order to comply with the law, but was told by Rep. John Kavanagh that it wasn’t very expensive. However, the Republicans prevailed after a 34-22 vote that sent the bill to the Senate.
“What this does is level the playing field for those of us who obey the law, who want to protect ourselves and our families and quite candidly other people in society and allows us to do that knowing that the people are going to commit crimes don’t care what the law says.” Farnsworth said.
The gun debate carried into Thursday when the House heard three bills relating to firearms. Two of the bills were non-controversial. However, Rep. Eddie Farnsworth (R-Gilbert) and Chad Campbell (D-Phoenix) debated over the purpose of HB 2338, a bill that would make it a class-four penalty to take or attempt to take control of a person’s lawfully owned firearm.
“There us no need for this bill. We are supposed to be a conservative legislature that doesn’t like to make laws just for the sake of making a law. If you stole somebody’s gun, you’ve already broken the law,” Campbell said
Farnsworth rebutted: “The reason why it’s limited to guns is because there really is a very limited use for guns. You don’t cut steaks with them, you don’t hit baseballs with them, there’s no secondary use really other than to shoot and kill whether that’s an animal, whether that’s in self-defense.”
Farnsworth side came out on top when the bill passed 41-15.