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Bill requiring Idaho libraries to move ‘harmful materials’ heads to Gov. Little

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - A bill allowing a legal claim against a library in Idaho is now heading to Governor Brad Little's desk for his signature.

"House Bill 710 takes the common sense approach of requiring public schools and community libraries to restrict children's access to pornographic materials in their collections," said Blaine Conzatti, President of the Idaho Family Policy Center.

This could mean moving materials deemed harmful to children to a designated section of the library or even checking IDs before allowing entry into certain reading areas. If libraries don't take necessary actions, parents have the right to sue.

However, legal action can only be taken if the material in question falls under Idaho's current definition of harmful materials. Idaho state law defines harmful material as nudity, sexual conduct, including homosexuality, sexual excitement and sado-masochistic abuse. 

The bill says that if "the institution's library board or board of trustees failed to relocate the material harmful to minors to an area with adult access only any minor, parent, or legal guardian who prevails in an action brought under this section may recover two hundred fifty dollars ($250) in statutory damages."

Idaho Falls Public Library President, Robert Wright, says this standard is unrealistic, especially for smaller Idaho libraries with limited staff and space.

Sen. Mary Shea said libraries in Pocatello have not encountered problems with minors accessing porn materials. This has her team questioning if the law is even necessary. 

"This bill still invites mischief and grift," Shea said. "It would be very easy to put a book you don't like in the wrong place in the library, just so you can file a lawsuit about it."

President Wright agrees the bill is problematic, especially since parents already have a way to file a complaint if their child is exposed to materials they deem inappropriate.

"Currently, we have a 'Request for Reconsideration' policy if you believe that there's something misclassified in the library," he said. "If you find a book in the children's library that you think is inappropriate there, you fill out the form, you submit it to me the library director."

House Bill 710 could take effect as a soon as July 1, 2024.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Politics

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Ashley Chilcutt

Ashley is a reporter and producer for Local News 8.

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