Idaho View: Libraries Debate Shows 2022 Session Theme | Columnists

Idaho Falls Post Register Editorial Board

As we prepared for the 2022 Idaho legislative session to close on March 25, a wrench was thrown into the works.

At 3:33 p.m. that day, we received an email with a press release from House Republican leaders informing us that they would be holding a press conference summarizing the session after the House adjourned.

We all know the meaning of the phrase “hold your horses”.

Later that day, the House killed the budget for the Idaho Library Commission. There would be no closing of the legislative session, at least not on that day. The budget bill failed on a vote of 29-36. A new, different, just $100 version was presented to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee after 8:30 p.m. After a tense debate, the House passed a fifth version of this oh-so-slightly different budget and it headed to the Senate.

“We are here hours later than we should have been, debating a budget that we should have passed a few days ago,” said Rep. Ned Burns, D-Bellevue, denouncing the withdrawal of 3, $5 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that would have gone to rural telehealth access projects.

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It basically goes back to House Bill 666, an earlier bill that critics say could lead to lawsuits against librarians for checking materials deemed harmful to minors.

The first two drafts of the Library Commission budget were withdrawn before being voted on, amid concerns from House Republicans about the “pay” at Idaho libraries.

House members challenged books from adult sections of libraries, teen memoirs and coming-of-age novels with LGBTQ themes and sex education books for ages 10+, calling the material “pornography”.

GOP representatives led by Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, argued that the librarians had made the budget “unfundable” by voicing their opposition to HB 666. Young distributed to all House members a copy of ‘a March 2 email from the Idaho Library Association to its members opposing HB 666 when it argued for killing the previous version of the budget bill because it said comments in the e- mail were “unacceptable”.

If ever there was an appropriately numbered piece of legislation in this session, it would be HB 666.

“It seems to me that we’re taking that $3.5 million out of this budget because a group of people stood up to stand up for their jobs, stand up for their communities, and stand up for the people of their town,” Burns said. “It seems to me what’s happening by taking away that $3.5 million is that we’re restricting people’s rights to free speech. … The government is violating people’s right to free speech because we didn’t like what they said. It’s downright anti-American.

“In my view, this is nothing less than a petty and vindictive bill,” said Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise.

House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, called the move a dangerous trend, saying it’s “deeply dangerous (to be) prosecuting people for exercising their sacred First Amendment right.” to seek redress from their government. This is one of the five fundamental freedoms of the first amendment.

The legislative session finally ended on Thursday. There were some positive things that came out of the session, like increased investment in education, investment in transportation, public safety. But it should be remembered as a session where people’s rights were trampled on with too many proposals offering solutions to problems that don’t exist, including voting rights.

This latest move with the libraries was nothing more than a political stunt, something to relieve the grassroots.

This was part of a common theme seen throughout the session – lack of trust while infringing on rights.

When it comes to voting rights, too many proposals showed a lack of faith in school districts to schedule bond elections within a certain time frame, county clerks to ban ballot boxes, or voters themselves to try to set a tight deadline to register. a closed Republican primary.

In the case of HB 666, it’s not about trusting librarians, about trying to legislate what parents should already be doing.

Really, how many 5- or 6-year-olds go to the library themselves, without their parents, to pick up a book from the adult section and have a librarian let them peruse it? Do we have a line of 900 5 year olds trying to get their hands on inappropriate material?

Madness was rampant during this session. The library problem dragged him out.

Are these lawmakers really trying to protect the people of Idaho or are they trying to score political points?

The Post Register’s editorial board is made up of editor Travis Quast, editor Monte LaOrange and columnist John Miller.

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