Idaho House Kills $$$ For Library Commission Because Librarians WILL RESPECT THEIR AUTHORITY
Idaho's legislature was set to wrap up its 2022 session today, but then Thursday afternoon, the state House, in its ongoing quest to become the most dysfunctional legislative body in the US, decided instead to kill off a budget bill for the Idaho Commission for Libraries. Republicans had a really good reason to not fund the state agency that oversees school and public library policy and operations: They were mad that a bunch of uppity librarians had opposed their earlier bill to criminalize librarians who check out "harmful materials" to minors, and needed to lash out at somebody. Yes, really.
The defeated budget bill would have provided $11.2 million in combined state and federal funds for the commission; the House had already cut $307,000 that would have funded ebooks in school libraries, because some legislators said there were dirty filthy e-books in there. The bill also included a requirement that the commission abide by existing state obscenity law. But it simply didn't hurt those nasty librarians enough.
The vote against passing a 2023 budget for the Library Commission won't actually do much of anything to affect what books are in local and school libraries, since those decisions are made at the local level anyway. And the state Lege can't simply eliminate funding for the commission for a full year, either, because it's legally required to pass budgets for all state agencies before it can adjourn, so the vote really means the Lege will have to start all over again on a new budget and pass it in both the House and Senate.
Still, Republicans were plenty mad that librarians would have the temerity to oppose the earlier censorship bill, the appropriately numbered HB 666, which would have allowed prosecution of librarians and library administrators over the availability of "sexually explicit" materials — in reality, that's moral panic code for anything covering LGBT issues or characters. The bill wasn't taken up by the Senate, so it was a dead issue anyway, but in debate on the Library Commission budget Thursday, Republicans were pissed that librarians would dare to say they didn't like a bill that could have sent librarians to jail for a year and/or fined them up to $1,000.
Republican state Rep. Julianne Young distributed copies of an email from the Idaho Library Association calling on its members to oppose the bill, as if librarians — who are really just pornographers and Marxists trying to indoctrinate innocent children — even have the right to talk back to elected leaders. She was especially angry about a line that said "people just trying to help kids be good readers would have to live in fear of jail time," because that downplayed all the porn, we'll assume.
"These are professionals and a professional organization who are actively defending their ability to place these materials in sections of the library available to children," Young said. "At this point, Mr. Speaker, in the absence of any change of course on the part of these professional associations, I find this conduct to not only be unprofessional and unacceptable, but I find it to be unfundable. So I will be a 'no.'"
Rep. Young also complained about librarians' public testimony against HB 666, in which they pointed out the language of the bill was extremely vague and could censor constitutionally protected speech. During debate on the bill earlier this month, one librarian had even read a sexy passage from the Bible's Book of Ezekiel to emphasize that there's plenty of filth there:
There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like those of horses, so you longed for the lewdness of your youth when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled.
While Young didn't specifically cite that horrible librarian's being a smartass with the Bible — the Bible! — she did make clear that librarians and the Idaho Library Association needed to be punished for their brazen lack of respect for the people calling them smut peddlers.
When you see those comments you will see a marked lack of humility, a lack of measured reason and no indication of appreciation for what it means to be a state funded facility placed in a position of responsibility with the opportunity to influence a child.
Replying to Young, state Rep. Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls), who had voted for HB 666, pointed out that not funding the Library Commission wouldn't defund the Idaho Library Association, which is a private organization, and that the commission is
required to abide by Idaho law, not the policy of the Idaho Library Association, or the American Library Association, or any other non-governmental association. A vote for this bill in no way condones the distribution of obscene or pornographic materials.
That wasn't enough for other Republicans, who demanded a firm if pointless stand be taken against all books, although if you want to get down to it, libraries do not actually carry pornography, no matter how much some Republicans, like state Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls), insist there's literal porn in libraries.
Pornography is not a victimless crime. ... The money allows the pornography. I am asking you to vote no. ... I guarantee that sending a message matters. They need to understand the Legislature and the House of Representatives do not appreciate this.
The budget bill failed on a 33-36 vote, so the legislature will have to stay in session and write an actual budget bill for the commission.
In a statement, Lauren Necochea (D-Boise), the assistant minority leader, called the vote "senseless retribution" against librarians, who for some reason still have the same rights as other citizens.
“The revised budget already punished Idaho students, reducing their access to books so that House GOP legislators could make a political statement,” Necochea said. “Ultimately, Idaho’s children are paying the price with diminished access to books, especially in schools with limited resources.”
Well yes, that's the point, isn't it?
[Idaho Capital Sun / Idaho Press / Idaho Education News / Boise State Public Radio]
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