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Obscenity Bill Passes Texas House

Texas water buffalo look out. Betty Brown is comin’ to save ya.

Texas- Rep. Betty Brown’s legislation to combat violent pornography has made its way to the Senate side of the Capitol, but four other bills died because of a deadline last week.

Among those bills which did not meet a May 12 deadline for a second reading was Brown’s legislation to punish destruction of a mailbox or other address identifier with a 180-day driver’s license suspension. Brown’s bills were just a few of the hundreds that did not meet the deadline despite lawmakers remaining on the floor until past midnight all week.

Brown’s bill to make it illegal to depict obscene material — constituting murder, capital murder, sexual assault, or aggravated sexual assault — unanimously passed the House last Tuesday.

According to a bill analysis conducted by the House, the legislation is aimed at “web sites and other forms of medium” depicting violent acts, often for a fee, for the purpose of sexual gratification. If passed, the bill would make wholesale promotion of this type of material a third degree felony, and would also prohibit a person from promoting or possession such items by making it a state jail felony.

Earlier in the legislative session, Brown told The Malakoff News, “We’re trying to keep these horribly, horribly obscene web sites out of Texas.”

She said the impetus for the legislation comes from a sexual assault case in which the person convicted spoke about a website showing violent sex acts.

An identical companion bill was filed in the Senate by Sen. David Deuell, R-Kaufman, but has been stuck in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, the same place Brown’s legislation was sent.

Last week, a weary Brown said she had been told by that committee’s chairman, Sen. John Whitmore, D-Houston, that the bill would be addressed.

“I think we may get a hearing yet,” Brown said.

Brown was obviously disappointed about the mail box legislation, which she had high hopes for at the start of the session.

“It went down (Thursday) night,” she said. “That was hard to see.”

That bill, which came as a result of concerns voiced by Henderson County Sheriff Ronny Brownlow, targeted the common culprits of mail box vandalism: teen-agers. The concern is that missing 911 addresses are making it difficult for emergency vehicles to find some residences.

Brown said she hasn’t given up hope yet, however, and will look for a suitable bill to attach the legislation.

“We just have to keep trying,” she said.



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