IDAHO, USA — Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Wednesday vetoed HB 314, legislation aimed at restricting minors from accessing 'harmful materials' in school and community libraries.
The House voted 40-30 to pass HB 314, followed by a 26-9 approving vote in the Idaho Senate on March 30. The bill is known as the school and library protection act.
HB 314 would have allowed a parent to sue a library if their child were to check out a book they found inappropriate or obscene for $2,500. The bill was rewritten to change the amount public schools and community libraries can be fined, from $10,000 to $2,500, prior to hitting the House floor.
Under the legislation, library boards or school districts could be sued if a minor obtained "harmful materials" and the library or school did not restrict access with "reasonable steps."
The Idaho Library Association testified in strong opposition to the bill in committee hearings.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little said his main concern with the bill is its "ambiguity." In his veto, after the bill arrived on his desk on the afternoon of March 31, Little said HB 314 would have "unintended consequences for Idaho libraries and their patrons."
"This legislation makes sweeping, blanket assumptions on materials that could be determined as 'harmful to minors' in a local library, and it will force one interpretation of that phrase onto all the patrons of the library," Little wrote. "Allowing any parent, regardless of intention, to collect $2,500 in automatic fines creates a library bounty system that will only increase the costs local libraries incur, particularly rural libraries. These costs will be forced onto property taxpayers of Idaho or cause the libraries to close to minors altogether."
To read Little's entire veto letter, click here.
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