The Children’s School and Library Protection Act heads to Senate to be amended

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 4:53 AM MDT
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BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —Legislation aimed at protecting children from obscene and harmful material in public and school libraries is heading to the Senate floor, but some work has to be done on the bill first.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted Wednesday morning to send HB314 to the Senate to be amended and fix some confusing language in the legislation.

The bill requires public and school libraries to take reasonable steps in restricting children’s access to obscene or harmful material, such as material that is considered to be pornographic or sexual in nature.

Additionally, the legislation allows parents to file lawsuits and recover up to $2,500 in damages against institutions that do not take steps to restrict minor’s access from said materials.

Sen. Chuck Winder asked bill sponsor Rep. Jaron Crane if a minor could bring forth a lawsuit against an institution that is in violation. Crane told the senator only parents or guardians can file lawsuits. Winder told the bill sponsor the legislation read as though a minor could file a lawsuit. The confusing language was one of the reasons Winder made a motion to send the legislation to the amending order of the Senate.

Even though the legislation made it out of committee, some lawmakers expressed concerns about the civil liability attached to the bill.

“This private cause of action, actually the way it is written does not require the parents to work with the library to resolve the problem. It just says go file the lawsuit. I’m concerned with that,” Sen. James Ruchti said.

Sen. Kelly Anthon told Crane he is fully behind the intent of the bill and protecting minors from dangerous material, but he too had issues with parent filing lawsuits against libraries.

“You (Crane) mentioned a speeding ticket. You said we don’t let someone speed without some type consequence. We don’t sue them in civil court. When I think of other accountability laws we have in the state of Idaho for local governments we don’t have a civil cause of action like this. That’s my one hang up,” Anthon said.

The bill passed the House earlier this week in a close vote, with both Republicans and Democrats voting against it.