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Revenge pornography penalties, funding for pot health study among new laws taking effect in Colorado

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DENVER — Online posting of intimate pictures or videos of former romantic partners as a form or revenge will carry criminal penalties in Colorado beginning Tuesday as new laws take effect involving several issues.

Colorado was one of about two dozen states that considered bills this year addressing the trend of so-called revenge porn. The new law makes it a misdemeanor to publish explicit images of someone without their consent, and the crimes will carry a fine of at least $10,000.

Other states that passed revenge pornography laws this year were Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"The effects of someone posting intimate photos online can be devastating to the victim, but now there will be serious consequences for the perpetrators of this horrible practice," Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument, a sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.

Other laws taking effect July 1 include a requirement to release data to parents regarding student vaccination rates at schools.

As proposed, the legislation was intended to make it more difficult for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children. Parents seeking a "personal belief" exemption would have been required to watch an educational video about vaccines or get clearance from a doctor. However, those provisions were stricken when lawmakers said they did not have the votes to pass the bill without watering it down.

Another new law allocates $10 million in excess medical marijuana fees to study the effects of the drug. With more attention being paid to the possible impact of pot on children suffering from epilepsy or seizures, lawmakers said establishing grants to study the drug would be useful.

"It's going to be exciting to see what the benefits are for patients across the country," said Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, one of the sponsors of the legislation.

Other new laws include:

— Stricter sentencing guidelines for sexual offenses against children under 12. The legislation is modeled after Florida's "Jessica's Law."

— Allowing women to collect civil damages when someone intentionally or recklessly terminates their pregnancy unlawfully.

— Increasing funding for a property tax and rent rebate program for low-income elderly individuals and couples.

— Repealing the requirement that vehicle registration cards contain the owner's address and signature. Lawmakers sponsoring the bill worried that having such personal information in vehicle registration cards was attracting identity thieves and tipping off criminals when someone might not be at home if their car was parked at an airport.


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