by Mia Maldonado, Idaho Capital Sun
January 11, 2024
Republicans in the Idaho Legislature have resumed their efforts to enact a law to prevent libraries from providing “harmful materials” to minors.
On Wednesday morning, the Idaho Legislature’s House State Affairs Committee introduced a new bill to allow community members to sue libraries if they provide “harmful materials” to minors, or materials that include “nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sado-masochistic abuse.” Under the Legislature’s definition of “sexual conduct,” this includes “any act of homosexuality.”
Its sponsor, Rep. Jaron Crane, R- Nampa, introduced the legislation, noting that it is based on House Bill 314, which made its way to Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s desk last year.
The bill last year would have allowed minors, parents or guardians to sue a library for $2,500 for a violation of the bill, but Little vetoed the bill — saying that it would create a “library bounty system” that would financially set back libraries.
Under the new legislation, students, parents and legal guardians could fill out a written notice asking libraries to relocate a library item that they deem “harmful” to the adult section.
If a library fails to relocate the item within 30 days of receiving the relocation request, then one could sue the library for $250, as well as “actual damages and any other relief.”
“Those are the changes that (the governor) requested that we take a look at, and we guarantee that we won’t bankrupt any library here in Idaho,” Crane said.
In a press release, Crane said the legislation is designed to protect Idaho children.
“Libraries play an important role in our community, but they must take responsible, ‘reasonable steps’ to locate materials that Idaho code 18-1515 deems harmful to minors, into a section of the library that is for adults only,” he said.
The committee must hold a public hearing and pass the bill before it could be considered by the Idaho House of Representatives. A full committee hearing for the bill has not yet been scheduled.
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