@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Senate OKs 'revenge porn,' EPA bills

Posted August 5, 2015

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— After days of delay, the Senate voted Wednesday in favor of bills that would make "revenge porn" a felony and block the state from planning to implement new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

House Bill 792 would make it a felony to post explicit photos or video of anyone without their consent if the posting is intended to harass, extort or intimidate the victim. It would also give victims the right to sue perpetrators for damages.

There was considerable debate over an amendment that reduces a first-time offense to a misdemeanor for juveniles. Sponsor Sen. Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford, said it would "give the kids under 18 an additional chance to get it right and go forward" without accruing a felony record.

Critics of the amendment protested that criminals under 18 don't get a second chance on other crimes, such as stealing cars or robbery, and spoke of the difficulty of controlling or removing such images from the Internet once they're posted.

"The victim doesn’t get a second chance. The victim is victimized 24-7 for the rest of their lives," argued Sen. Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston.

Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, agreed: “I’d rather be shot in the leg than have a naked picture of me posted online."

But others argued for leniency toward first-time teen offenders.

"Most of us were 17 at one time," said bill sponsor Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson. "They’re in love, and they do things that they shouldn’t. Two weeks from now, they’re out of love, and so one of them posts the picture."

Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, agreed teenagers deserve "probably one break," observing that he'd benefited from several such breaks as a teen himself.

“You'd get driven home [by the police] sometimes in a small town," Apodaca said. "You don’t have that now. “

The amendment passed 28-15, and the bill was approved unanimously on its final Senate reading, It now goes back to the House for concurrence.

The chamber also approved a weaker version of a bill by Sen Trudy Wade, R-Guilford, that would ban the state from spending any time, money or resources on a plan to implement the EPA's new Clean Power Plan until all court challenges to the new regulations are exhausted.

After the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources objected, saying the agency would need to have a plan and then have it rejected in order to sue the EPA, Wade amended House Bill 571 to allow implementation planning for only the first stage of the CPP.

Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, said the proposal is unnecessary, noting that the state will already meet the new pollution limits because of clean-up work done by Duke Energy and other polluters over the past few years. He said the proposal will limit the state's ability to formulate a workable plan to meet federal deadlines.

"We don’t need to mess with success," Woodard protested. "We have a plan in place, and we are executing it. The status quo is success. You’re kicking the hornet’s nest by continuing to go against the plan as proposed."

The bill passed 31-12 and next returns to the House, where it's unlikely to win approval becaue it's essentially the opposite of the original House measure.

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