Gail Griffin is a Republican Arizona state representative who wants to help fund President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall by taxing pornography.
The bill would require all manufacturers to preinstall porn-blocking software on all electronic devices sold in Arizona and then have the state charge people a $20 fee to disable the blocker.
The bill would also criminalize disabling the blocker without approval.
The money would then be used, according to the proposal, among other things, to help fund Trump’s proposed border wall with state funds.
The Free Speech Coalition has called the bill “clearly unconstitutional.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gail Griffin Wants to Tax Porn to Fund Border Wall
Griffin’s House Bill 2444 would require manufacturers to preinstall porn blockers on all computers and electronic devices sold in the state. Failing to do so would be a class 1 misdemeanor.
People who then want to access porn must submit an official request to the state, provide proof of age, and pay a $20 fee to the State of Arizona along with whatever fee the manufacturer requires.
The money from the fees would then go into a fund created by the bill, called the John McCain Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Fund, which would give grants to “to uphold community standards of decency” and “developing, expanding or strengthening programs for victims of sex abuse.”
At the top of her list of things the grant money can be used for is “build a border wall between Mexico and this state or fund border security.”
2. Griffin’s Proposal Called ‘Unconstitutional’
Mike Stabile, a spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition, told The Arizona Mirror that the bill would violate the First Amendment.
“It’s pretty clearly unconstitutional,” he said, adding that similar efforts have been defeated in other states though “the border wall twist is new.”
The Mirror reported that the bill appears to be linked to anti-gay activist Chris Sevier, who is best known for trying to marry his computer in protest of same-sex marriage.
Sevier has pushed similar measures and runs a website called “Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act,” which is the short title for Griffin’s bill. Sevier has sued states in stunts to protest gay marriage and laws barring discrimination against gay people.
“He’s been doing this all across the country,” Stabile said.
3. Griffin Has Been in Office On and Off Since 1997
Griffin represents her hometown of Hereford, Arizona in the state House of Representatives.
She was sworn in earlier this month after previously representing her district in the State Senate from 2013 to 2019. According to Vote Smart, she served as the Majority Whip of the state Senate from 2015 to 2019.
She previously served a short stint in the Arizona House of Representatives between 1997 and 2001.
According to Vote Smart, Griffin has worked as a real estate broker at Sierra Vista Realty since 1975.
4. 15 Other State Legislatures Considering Taxing Porn
At least 15 state legislatures have considered the “Human Trafficking Prevention Bill,” which would block and tax online pornography, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The EFF successfully worked to defeat at least a dozen previous versions of the bill in various states. The EFF linked the efforts to Sevier, writing that, “In short, the HTPA is part of a multi-state effort coordinated by the same person behind a bill to delegitimize same-sex marriages as ‘parody marriages.'”
The bill has been introduced in Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
5. Republican State Lawmakers Trying to Use State Funds to For Trump’s Proposed Wall
Along with Griffin’s effort to help fund Trump’s proposed border wall, which has not gotten underway after Republicans failed to fund any portion of the wall for two years while holding a majority in both chambers of Congress, other Republicans are trying to use state funds to help fund the wall as well.
Montana state Sen. Scott Sales said he will propose a bill that will allocate $8 million in state funds to help build the proposed wall.
Sales told CNN the $8 million is a “very small contribution in the effort to provide border security” and that his proposal is “in a way a symbolic measure to highlight this issue that I think should be of concern to every single citizen.”
Three Republican West Virginia state lawmakers have also announced they will introduce a bill to use $10 million in state funds to help build the wall.
Delegate Caleb Hanna, who is cosponsoring the bill with Delegates Carl Martin and Patrick Martin, told Fox News he thinks “the wall is a crucial part in addressing West Virginia’s drug problem.” He said he wants to “take 10 million of West Virginia’s $200 million surplus and give it directly to the southern border to help build the wall.”