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Gov. Little: 'I signed that stinkin' library bill' according to report

The Idaho State Flag hanging inside the Statehouse Rotunda.
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio

Gov. Brad Little has signed legislation restricting which books a minor can access at public and private libraries in Idaho one year after vetoing a similar bill.

"I signed that stinkin' library bill," Little told Idaho Reports Wednesday morning.

In a letter explaining his decision, the governor wrote, "I share the [bill's sponsors'] desires to keep truly inappropriate library materials out of the hands of minors."

But Little vetoed similar legislation last year, saying it created a "bounty" scheme where parents could collect uncapped legal damages from lawsuits filed against libraries, potentially closing libraries to minors altogether.

In last year's veto, Little wrote, "This legislation makes 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."

The version he signed into law Wednesday still contains that language.

"That said, I still believe a greater harm confronts our children — content accessible to them on their phones and devices," Little wrote Wednesday.

This version would force all libraries to relocate a book to an adults-only section within 60 days of receiving a written complaint.

Those complaints can be filed by anyone – even if they don’t live in Idaho.

If a library refuses to move the material, the person filing the complaint would be able to sue in civil court for a minimum $250 fine plus “actual damages” awarded by a judge or jury.

Supporters of the bill have generally cited books with LGBTQ characters and sex education materials as examples of “obscene” material that shouldn’t be generally accessible by minors.

"Pornography has no place in schools or public libraries – period," said Blaine Conzatti, president of the Idaho Family Policy Center, which backed the bill.

"No child should ever encounter sexually explicit books at taxpayer-funded schools or community libraries," Conzatti said.

Libraries would still be able to loan these books to minors with parental permission.

The Idaho Library Association, which has repeatedly opposed the legislation over the past three years,tweeted it is "so disappointed."

"Please check on your librarians," it added in the statement.

The law, which will take effect July 1, seems to contradict public opinion polling from Boise State University’sannual statewide survey.

Nearly 70% of Idahoans trust librarians and their ability to choose what materials are made available to patrons. Trust among those identifying with a political party all exceed 60%.

This is a developing story. Please check back frequently for updates.

Copyright 2024 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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