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Committee clears bill on porn czar’s duties

SHARE Committee clears bill on porn czar’s duties

A bill that clarifies duties of Utah's porn czar flew through its first committee Wednesday.

Rep. Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, wants to codify requirements for Paula Houston, the obscenity and pornography complaints ombudsman, that mandate she create model legislation for communities. Also, HB107 clarifies that local governments must coordinate investigations with the Attorney General's Office, Harper said.

Both requirements were intended for the original statute, passed during the 2000 legislative general session, but were deleted in the process.

"I've had requests from constituents that these items be included," he said. "The city and county attorneys want the ombudsman to create legislation they can use."

Houston is working with Harper to change some of the language in the bill to say that she would merely advise local governments in crafting anti-pornography and obscenity laws rather than draft the laws.

Occasionally, local law enforcement agencies found their investigations overlapped with the AG's office. The resulting confusion prompted the local agencies to approach Harper and ask for clarification in jurisdiction. HB107 requires Houston's office to contact local law enforcement before beginning any investigations, which they do in practice already, she said.

"It won't be a big change," Houston said. "It's certainly not difficult to add (the extra duties)."