The House of Representatives has taken quick action to shore up Washington’s cyber harassment law just two weeks after a federal district court found it to be unconstitutional. Washington House Republicans’ John Sattgast reports from the state Capitol.
SATTGAST: On February 22nd, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton blocked Washington state’s cyber harassment law, saying that it clearly prohibits speech that is protected by the First Amendment.
That prompted 31st District State Representative Drew Stokesbary to introduce House Bill 2129. The measure was put on the fast track, passing the House Appropriation Committee just days after the ruling and then was pulled to the House floor.
STOKESBARY: “This is a way to strengthen our law and give prosecutors some tools to go after folks that are really committing crimes. That are using the internet to harass their victims, but does so in a way that it balances the First Amendment and recognizes that there are forms of protected speech out there the government cannot regulate, not matter how uncomfortable it might make us.”
SATTGAST: Under the proposed legislation, cyber harassment could be charged as a felony if the defendant had previously been convicted of harassing the victim, their family or their household.
The measure passed the House unanimously. It has been referred to the Senate Law and Justice Committee for further consideration. John Sattgast, Olympia.