BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Republican lawmakers in Idaho are forming a task force to investigate allegations that Idaho libraries are making explicit materials available to minors.
Idaho Senate Republicans announced plans for a task force over the weekend, the Idaho Press reported. The group will include eight legislators and representatives from the Idaho Library Commission and the Idaho Library Association.
The issue – raised by right-wing Republicans who have said libraries contain pornographic material – derailed the planned end of the legislative session on Friday, as the House twice rejected the proposed budget for the Library Commission of Idaho.
Both houses eventually passed a budget of $7.7 million for the Library Board, a reduction of about $4 million from the original appropriation. The cuts included $3.5 million in federal virus relief funds, some of which would have helped rural areas establish telehealth connections, and more than $300,000 in public funding for e-books.
Senate Speaker Pro Tem Chuck Winder, a Republican from Boise, said Monday the task force was created in place of a resolution passed by the House that would have done much the same thing.
“Basically they wanted to do a resolution, we didn’t want to do one,” Winder said. “But we are ready to do the task force and investigate the problem and see the extent of the problem and the possible solutions to be, if need be.
Democrats had mostly opposed the cuts, saying Republicans were punishing libraries for speaking out in defense, a reference to Republican Rep. Julianne Young.
She previously cited an email from the Idaho Library Association to members stating its opposition to a Republican-backed bill to fine librarians $1,000 and send them to jail for a year if they allow minors to view “harmful materials”.
This bill was passed in the House but was not heard in the Senate. During the debate on the measure, some House members shared examples of documents they objected to in a folder distributed around the floor. The examples came mostly from the adult section of libraries, along with a few teen memoirs and coming-of-age novels with LGBTQ themes. There was also a sex education book for young people which is made available to children over the age of 10.
On Monday, House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, a Democrat from Boise, said she didn’t think it was reasonable to purge libraries of adult material.
“I have not been convinced that there is a crisis. But if it gets people settled to the point where they’re willing to fund libraries in the future, I guess that’s something we have to do,” she said of the group. work.
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