By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports
The Senate has passed a bill that would allow parents to sue libraries if children are able to check out materials deemed obscene.
“This is not a book ban bill,” said sponsor Sen. Cindy Carlson, R-Riggins. “We are asking libraries to take reasonable steps to prevent minors from accessing materials that are harmful to minors.”
The legislation allows parents and guardians to sue for $2,500 if those libraries don’t take reasonable steps to prevent minors from checking out books deemed obscene by “applying contemporary community standards.”
“This bill will not hurt librarians but holds the institutions responsible,” Carlson said, adding the law wouldn’t apply to books with historical, scientific, or literary value, nor would it apply to religious texts like the Bible.
Sen. Ron Taylor, D-Hailey, pointed out that the Bible includes stories about bestiality, infanticide, prostitution.
“It was up to my parents to answer questions I had and to explain to me the concepts that were being put forward in those verses,” Taylor said.
Sen. Geoff Schroeder, R-Mountain Home, said he supported the goals of the legislation, but not what he called the “$2,500 bounty” that incentivizes citizens to get their children to check out obscene material so they can get a financial reward at the taxpayers’ expense.
“My whole beef with this bill is the enforcement mechanism,” Schroeder said, saying he preferred prosecutors enforce the law with injunctions against challenged material.
Sen. Chris Trakel, R-Caldwell, said his 13-year-old daughter was able to check out a sex education book called “Let’s Talk About It” from their local library. He asked to read portions of the book that he found objectionable. After Senate President Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke cautioned him on Senate rules of decorum, Trakel said the warning illustrated his point perfectly.
“I can’t read this here, but it’s OK for children to read it,” he said.
According to the book’s publisher, “Let’s Talk About It” is a graphic novel targeted to teenagers for purposes of sex education.
The bill passed 26-9 Thursday evening. The House agreed with the Senate’s changes on Friday and sent the bill to the governor.