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HB 314, 'harmful materials in libraries' bill passes in the House

The bill passed the House and now moves to the Senate floor.

IDAHO, USA — HB 314, a bill meant to address 'harmful materials in libraries,' passed the House today and now goes to the floor. The bill was rewritten to change the amount public schools and community libraries can be fined, from $10,000 to $2,500. 

During a House committee meeting on Thursday, March 16, people were able to testify and heard from Republican Rep. Jaron Crane, Sen. Cindy Carlson, and Blaine Conzatti from the Idaho Family Policy Center (IFPC). Crane first referenced an IFPC poll and said this was not a book ban bill.

"This bill requires that public school and community libraries take reasonable steps to restrict access to this material that is considered obscene and harmful to minors," Crane said.

He said the bill states the libraries do not have to remove the material that may be considered offensive, only take reasonable actions to keep it from being accessed by minors, he did not state what those actions might be.

Sen. Cindy Carlson brought books and a binder to show people what books she has found in Idaho libraries that could be considered offensive and that some libraries have clearly crossed the line and that kids have access to porn in schools.

"The school district in the district in the district I represent provided information on how to access sex toys through their school website... this should mortify us. This must stop and these institutions must be held responsible," Carlson said. 

Conzatti said that nearly 30 cities in Idaho make obscenity available to kids

Conzatti said, "the state of Idaho has a compelling interest in protecting the fundamental right of parents to nurture and direct their children's destiny, upbringing and education."

However, the idea of what is obscene has been debated and the Idaho Library Association stated in a press release that Idaho libraries are in compliance with existing law. Further that the association finds it "reprehensible" that librarians are being vilified.

"Libraries are committed to providing access to information and resources that serve the needs and interests of all members of their communities," Lance McGrath, President of the ILA stated. “Public and school libraries are beloved institutions that provide valuable services that are tailored to meet the needs of their communities. Librarians are valued community partners who work collaboratively with others to serve the information needs of their citizens, from young children to seniors, by providing collections that are appropriate for their communities.”

The association states that Idaho libraries both school and public do not provide materials that are harmful to children.

"Certain topics are complex and personal, and libraries respect everyone's personal values," the press release states. "Categorically describing books with any reference to sex as obscene or pornographic, and demanding library restriction via threat of civil penalty as with HO314, is an unlawful imposition of personal morality on an entire community."

A group called "Friends of Boise Public Library" wrote a press release that said HB 314 threatens libraries.

"Idaho’s libraries do not provide materials that are obscene or harmful to minors. This bill unnecessarily restricts library patrons' freedom to read, learn, and think freely. Libraries are for everyone, and librarians should be free to develop and share collections that serve the entire community without fear of being sued," the press release stated.

People gave testimony supporting both sides., the bill passed in the House.

The bill now moves to the Senate floor. 

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