New library protection bill introduced on ‘obscene’ materials
By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
The House State Affairs Committee introduced a new library bill Tuesday, aimed at protecting children from what some legislators deem inappropriate content.
The first bill brought on the subject, HB 139, died in the Education Committee last month. Rep. Jaron Crane, R-Nampa, brought the new bill with some changes.
The bill prohibits librarians from allowing any child to check out obscene materials that are “harmful to minors.” The term “harmful to minors” is defined as including “descriptions or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sado-masochistic abuse.” The content may be harmful to minors when “applying contemporary community standards” and are “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable material for minors.”
In this bill, rather than allowing a lawsuit of up to $10,000, a parent could sue a library for $2,500. It also would allow only a parent or guardian to bring the lawsuit, rather than the child.
The bill allows a county prosecutor or the attorney general to request a cause of action for injunctive relief against any school or public library that violated the section. The bill states “this injunction shall be sufficient to prevent the defendant school or public library from violating” the section. Injunctive relief is a court-ordered action, or an order prohibiting an action.
The bill would add to Idaho’s Title 18, rather than Title 33, section of law, so it will go before the State Affairs Committee for a hearing, rather than the Education Committee.
Changes to Title 18 fall under crimes and punishments in Idaho law, which the State Affairs Committee reviews. Changes to Title 33 fall under the education laws in Idaho and are reviewed by the Education Committee.
Public libraries would still be allowed to have content with “obscene” material, but they would not be allowed to give it to minor, unless accompanied by a guardian who granted written consent.
The bill must still get a public hearing to move forward.