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Idaho Republican wants to allow damage claims for ‘harmful’ materials in libraries

A Republican lawmaker introduced a bill to allow parents or minors to sue libraries over “sexual” materials. | Darin Oswald, Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — A Nampa lawmaker wants to try again to allow guardians of children to sue for damages if their child is exposed to what Republicans deemed “harmful material” in libraries, after an effort to impose a similar law failed last legislative session.
The bill is a rewrite of a similar bill introduced last year, which Gov. Brad Little vetoed. Lawmakers in the House moved to override the veto, which requires two-thirds support, and failed by one vote.
“Obscene materials” are defined as nudity, “homosexuality” and varied sexual conduct in state law. The law defines “sexual excitement,” “sado-masochistic abuse” and delineates “harmful” qualities as those that appeal “to the prurient interest of minors as judged by the average person,” or which depict conduct “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable material for minors.”
The bill would add a new provision to allow guardians of minors to file “written notice” to the private school, public school or public library with the alleged “materials,” after which the institution would have 30 days to move the items to an adult section.
If the materials were not removed after 30 days, the parent or minor could file for $250 in “statutory damages,” according to the bill.
Last year’s bill would have allowed for $2,500 in damages and did not include the 30-day notice. The bill also leaves room for parents or minors to file for “actual damages.”
Rep. Jaron Crane, R-Nampa, sponsored both bills, and the House State Affairs Committee introduced the bill to the House on Wednesday.
Crane told the committee he had made “corrections” to the bill based on suggestions from Gov. Brad Little after his veto.
“Those are the changes that he requested that we take a look at, and I guarantee that we won’t bankrupt any library here in Idaho,” said Rep. Jaron Crane, R-Nampa, who sponsored both bills. A provision of the bill also notes that local prosecutors and the attorney general’s office could file an injunction against any libraries found in violation.
In a letter to lawmakers last year, Little said he supported the intent of the legislation but was concerned about “ambiguity” in the bill’s language. He wrote that it made “sweeping, blanket assumptions on materials that could be determined as ‘harmful to minors’ in a local library, and it will force one interpretation of that phrase onto all the patrons of the library,” according to previous Idaho Statesman reporting.
Efforts to restrict access to books and other materials at libraries have swept the country in recent years, many of which explicitly target books or photographs depicting LGBTQ experiences. Many of the parents who organized to remove books from libraries in Idaho have been specifically concerned with preventing children from viewing diverse sexualities, gender expressions or identities, or which promote a gay and lesbian “agenda,” according to previous Statesman reporting.
A group of citizens tried to dissolve the Meridian Library District last year over accusations that librarians had distributed ““smut filled pornography” to youth.
The post Idaho Republican wants to allow damage claims for ‘harmful’ materials in libraries appeared first on East Idaho News.
Source: eastidahonews.com

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