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Utah governor hopes to tackle the “public-health issue” of porn by proposing what hasn’t been done in more than a decade AP Photo

On page 92 of his $16 billon annual budget request, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has proposed that $50,000 of taxpayer money would go to fund anti-pornography efforts, which if adopted by the Legislature, would be the first time in more than a decade that public money has been used for such a cause.

“I am already on the record that pornography is a public-health issue,” Herbert told the Salt Lake Tribune. “This effort is an effective way to empower parents with practical methods to protect their families from the dangers of pornography.”

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Herbert hopes to build upon the anti-porn efforts made during the last legislative session, where Utah became the first state to pass a resolution that recognized the effects of pornography as a “public health crisis.” Though some strides were made in the anti-porn effort in Utah back in 2001 when a Porn Czar was appointed to the attorney general’s office, this position was removed due to budget cuts only two years later.

If the budget request is adopted, the $50,000 would to go to the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, a private nonprofit group that focuses on porn prevention and addiction recovery through conferences and seminars.

Andrew McCullough, the chairman of the Utah Libertarian Party believes the request would mean a massive waste of taxpayer funds.

“It’s a bunch of — I’m trying to think of a word you can print,” said McCullough, who is also an attorney who has represented adult businesses in Utah.

“In the greater scheme of things, the governor would say, ‘that’s not a lot of money,’ but it is a lot of money if you’re throwing it down a rat hole or using it to interfere with my personal freedoms. So no, I don’t like it even slightly,” McCullough continued, adding, “we all know it’s a waste and they’re not going to accomplish anything and we all know there’s a real threat there — a threat to personal freedom.”

Board chairwoman for the UCAP Pamela Atkinson argues that the funds are very much necessary.

“The bottom line is that the incidence of pornography is growing despite all the efforts of so many people in the world and around the country,” she said. “[The money] is needed for educating the public and parents in terms of what we can do and what resources are available.”

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Richard Thompson is an associate editor at Rare. Follow him on Twitter @RThompson_91 

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