Proposed bill to crack down on obscene libraries materials reassigned to new committee

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 6:45 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2023 at 7:42 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A bill in the Arkansas Senate would have an impact on libraries in the state.

Senate Bill 81 would expand the definition of obscene materials and make libraries in the state criminally liable if they violate it.

This is an issue very close to home to many in Craighead County, as back in 2021, there were many debates about what Is appropriate to have in the children’s section of the library.

According to the Arkansas State Legislature, the bill was re-referred to the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 15 after having its first amendment read.

Senator Dan Sullivan is a supporter of the bill, explaining this is all a part of a larger effort to protect children.

“What the bill does is put out standards of what it means to protect children,” he said. there aren’t many to protect their mental health and what I call spiritual development”

The bill would amend the Arkansas code for endangering the welfare of a minor to include sexual material and remove protection for library employees.

Now while supporters say they are trying to protect children, members of the Citizens Defending the Craighead County Library like Dean Macdonald Jr. say this is an overreaction.

“Those books are not what they are saying it is they are sex education books these are books that have things like the human anatomy,” he said.

If the bill goes through, violations allow a victim to sue for $50 for each day of a breach and an additional $10,000 if the state, a county, or a city “recklessly” violated the law and it would all go through the courts.

“It would be up to the local courts and the court would decide whether the material is harmful or unharmful for children,” Sullivan said.

Macdonald said this is a non-issue and does not understand why this bill is being proposed in the first place.

“If you talk to public educators across the state you know the last place you go for pornography is a public school or a library, it’s not happening it’s a manufactured issue,” he said.