FSC Presses AZ Governor to Veto AV Bill Adopted by Legislature

PHOENIX—The Arizona Senate voted on a third-reading vote today, mainly along party lines, to adopt age verification requirements targeting adult entertainment websites. A vote on the bill was held by the House of Representatives earlier in the legislative session. Now, the bill will be transmitted to Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat.

In response to its passage, adult entertainment industry trade group the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) announced a campaign to press Gov. Hobbs to veto House Bill (HB) 2586

"The adult industry whole-heartedly supports efforts to keep young people from material that is age-inappropriate or harmful," writes Alison Boden, the executive director of the FSC, in a letter addressed to Gov. Hobbs. "Unfortunately, [HB 2586] has significant practical, technical, and legal problems that render its ability to protect children limited while creating dangerous privacy risks for adults and violating the First Amendment rights of both consumers and producers."

Mike Stabile, the coalition's director of public affairs, testified before the legislature during committee hearings on HB 2568.

AVN reported that Stabile testified at a February 5 House Rules Committee hearing that the bill will do little to protect minors on the internet.

“The vast majority of adult content on the web is not affected by this bill,” Stabile said, via reporting by journalist Stephen Lemmons for the Phoenix New Times. "This bill does very little to protect children, and it has really significant downsides for adults trying to access First Amendment-protected content."

The FSC also highlighted other concerns, including allegations that the legislation's sponsors, conservative Republicans, didn't consult adult industry stakeholders. 

According to legislative documentation, local and national lobbying groups who oppose HB 2568 include Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona and hundreds of self-representing individuals. Proponents of the legislation include lobbyists for Heritage Action for America, which is the political action committee tied to the far-right Heritage Foundation that is involved in a group, Project 2025, that wants to see all legal pornography outlawed and stripped of its First Amendment protections.

"The law is written so broadly that the 'description' or 'depiction' of nudity, sexuality or sexual activity can create liability for a website if it is determined to be inappropriate for a single minor," Boden adds in her letter. "In the past several years, we’ve seen that the designation 'material harmful to minors' has been weaponized to censor art, sex education, LGBTQ+ literature and healthcare resources, chilling speech throughout the public square." 

Hobbs' intention to sign or veto the bill is currently hard to measure. Arizona's legislature does not have the votes necessary to beat a gubernatorial veto.