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Controversial Library Bill barely maintains veto status

Posted at 4:07 PM, Apr 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-07 18:08:18-04

BOISE, Idaho — By the narrowest of margins, the House failed to reach the 2/3 majority required to override the Governor's veto on House Bill 314aaS, known as the Library Bill, after he had returned the bill earlier in the week "without approval, disapproved and vetoed."

The bill had made it to Little's desk on March 31, passed by the House with a vote of 42-26-2, and passed by the Senate with a vote of 26-9-0.

The bill, essentially, would have required public schools and community libraries to take reasonable steps to restrict children from accessing materials considered inappropriate, showing nudity, sexual conduct or excitement, sadomasochistic-masochistic abuse, or otherwise harmful, through print, observation, or audio. It also outlined steps parents could take to sue the library should these materials be accessed by their children, as a civil lawsuit, for amounts up to $2,500.

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The arching umbrella of things considered inappropriate could include National Geographic depictions of other cultures, scenes from Shakespeare or the Bible, pictures of famous statues and artwork from centuries ago. This would also Harlequin romance novels, movies, and mp3 song recordings.

In the Governor's letter to the House Speaker, he states that the ambiguity of the bill could lead to unintended consequences. He further supported that the goal should be to encourage children to go and use the library, to support children to become successful readers and lifelong learners.

Supporting amounts of up to $2500, if parents choose to take legal action against a library, could result in extraordinary library operating costs with the potential to become a tax burden to property owners or even to be taken out of service altogether.

While some opposed to the bill praised the Governor's veto,

  • “Idaho schools and public libraries play a vital role in early literacy, reading on grade level, reading for pleasure, and lifelong learning,” said Lance McGrath, President of the Idaho Library Association said in a news release. “This bill as law would fundamentally change library services with regard to minors and would imperil our statutory obligation of providing access to information for all the people of Idaho.”

others were disappointed, expressing the belief that children and families were put behind the concerns of special interest groups.

  • “This veto is a concession to the same special interests that seem to have a vested interest in putting obscene, graphic, and pornographic material into the hands of children to begin with,” Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman said in a statement.

Legislature members, in their closing statements of this season, did not debate the issue before taking a vote on whether or not to override the veto. Though after the vote failed, suggested that this will not be the last time this issue will come into play.