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Utah House passes reworked polygamy law

State lawmakers have approved a plan that would leave those convicted under Utah’s bigamy law facing harsher penalties if they’re also convicted of other crimes such as domestic abuse.

Members of the full House of Representatives voted Thursday in favor of the bill, despite concern from some lawmakers that it would serve to criminalize speech by boosting charges for those who claim they have multiple spouses.

Utah’s current polygamy law bars married people from living with an extra spouse or claiming to have a second purported “spiritual spouse.” Rep. Michael Noel’s bill would make it a crime only if someone lives with and claims they have another spouse.

It would also shield from prosecution anyone who leaves a polygamous relationship because they feared bodily harm.

The bill next moves to a Senate committee for consideration.

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