Legislation replacing a controversial bill allowing library patrons wide leeway to sue over library materials they find objectionable was introduced on Thursday.
Senate Bill 1289, co-sponsored by Sen. Geoff Schroeder (R-Mountain Home) and Rep. Jaron Crane (R-Nampa), requires school and public libraries to establish a three-person committee made up of residents from its service area or school district to review complaints about materials. The legislation also calls for library governing boards to adopt “written policies and procedures” for handling complaints about harmful materials by Jan. 1.
The measure comes after Idaho Education Association members played a key role in the withdrawal of earlier legislation widely criticized for its overzealous attempt to allow patrons to sue libraries over materials they find objectionable.
House Bill 384 was withdrawn by Crane just three days after it was endorsed by the House State Affairs Committee on Jan. 15, the same day as IEA’s 2024 Lobby Day, when nearly 170 IEA members were at the Statehouse. IEA members and other opponents of the controversial bill filled two overflow rooms to deliver and listen to testimony on the bill.
“The passionate testimony of IEA members and librarians helped lawmakers understand that there must be a better approach than what House Bill 384 offered,” said Chris Parri, IEA’s political director. “From all indications, this compromise is one IEA members and other librarians feel much better about.”
The Idaho Library Association, which worked with IEA in opposing HB 384, played a role in drafting the new legislation and will not oppose Senate Bill 1289.
Schroeder had previously introduced another bill laying out less controversial procedures for challenging library content. He said during testimony that Senate Bill 1289 was the result of merging the two previous library bills.