Bill regarding ‘obscene’ materials in libraries introduced
By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
The House State Affairs Committee introduced a new bill regarding obscene materials in public libraries, allowing people to bring a lawsuit against the school or library should a child be exposed to the material.
Rep. Jaron Crane, R-Nampa, presented the bill he deemed the “Children’s School and Library Protection Act.” It differs from last year’s House Bill 666 in that it doesn’t have a criminal component.
Last legislative session, the House narrowly passed HB 666, which could have criminally charged librarians, but the Senate didn’t take it up, effectively killing it.
Crane’s bill requires public school libraries and community libraries to take reasonable steps to restrict children’s access to harmful or obscene materials.
“Harmful to minors” includes depictions of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sado-masochistic abuse. It also includes material that includes “patently offensive representations or descriptions of” various sexual acts that are “normal or perverted.”
The bill goes on to outline what sexual conduct includes, such as masturbation and sexual intercourse, but also prohibits depictions of “homosexuality” generally, not just homosexual sex.
Should a minor be exposed to any of this material, their parent or legal guardian could bring a lawsuit and claim up to $10,000 in damages.
Affirmative defenses for the libraries would include if they were given identification that said the child was 18, or if the child was accompanied at the time by a parent, guardian, or an adult who signed a written statement to that effect.
Local library districts are facing more scrutiny regarding claims of obscene materials in libraries and states such as Utah have called for reviews of content.
Crane’s bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Cindy Carlson, R-Riggins, and the Idaho Family Policy Center.
It still must get a public hearing before it can move forward.