Idaho Statehouse roundup: Library pornography bill surfaces, House passes financial literacy bill

School and Library Protection Act would prohibit schools, libraries from distributing obscene materials to minors

By: and - February 13, 2023 2:35 pm
Idaho Rep. Jaron Crane, R-Nampa,

Idaho Rep. Jaron Crane, R-Nampa, listens to action on the House floor at the State Capitol in Boise on Jan. 9, 2023. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

This story was originally posted on on Feb. 13, 2023.

Another bill targeting library pornography made a brief debut Monday.

Billed as the “School and Library Protection Act,” the bill would prohibit schools and libraries from distributing obscene materials to minors.

But this new bill makes one significant departure from a controversial libraries proposal from 2022. The current bill calls for civil penalties if a library violates the ban. A year ago, the House passed a bill that could have exposed librarians to criminal prosecution. The Senate did not take up last year’s bill.

The new bill outlines — often in graphic detail — library materials that would be defined as obscene and “harmful to minors.” The bill’s wording carves out exceptions for materials that have “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors, according to prevailing standards in the adult community.”

First-year Rep. Jaron Crane, R-Nampa, the bill’s House co-sponsor, said the state should make “a reasonable effort” to protect children who use taxpayer-funded libraries.

House State Affairs Chairman Brent Crane — a Nampa Republican and Jaron Crane’s brother — noted last year’s debate. Making a motion to introduce the bill, the chairman told the committee it has already discussed this issue in detail.

However, Monday’s committee voice vote to introduce the bill does set the stage for a full committee hearing at a later date. That hearing would likely be in House State Affairs.

The bill’s co-sponsors include Sen. Cindy Carlson, R-Riggins, and the Idaho Family Policy Center, a conservative Christian lobbying group.

On Monday, center president Blaine Conzatti hailed the introduction of what he called “library smut legislation.”

“No one is talking about banning books,” he said in a news release. “We’re simply asking that schools and libraries take reasonable steps to prevent children from accessing pornographic material.”

New bill addresses school restraint, seclusion tactics

The House Education Committee introduced a bill Monday defining the restraint and seclusion tactics schools can use.

It also directs the State Department of Education to provide additional training and guidance to districts and charter schools regarding the use of physical restraint and seclusion.

Under current law, schools can use restraints, seclusion and other methods of physical control to manage student behaviors in certain situations. This bill updates Idaho Code with definitions of types of restraints — chemical restraint, mechanical restraint, physical restraint — and defines “physical escort” and “seclusion.”

It also says school staff can only use the tactics when a student is putting them or others in “imminent danger.”

Idaho Falls Republican Rep. Marco Erickson, the bill’s sponsor, said the legislation is meant to “keep kids from being additionally traumatized.”

According to the bill’s statement of purpose, it’s intended to prohibit corporal punishment, but Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise, raised a question about the bill’s language, concerned it could be interpreted as a green light for corporal punishment in some circumstances.

The committee quickly introduced the bill, with Rep. Dale Hawkins, R-Fernwood, casting the lone dissenting vote. 

Idaho House fast-tracks financial literacy bill

It only took a matter of moments for the House to pass a financial literacy bill.

House Bill 92 would require high schools to offer a financial literacy class, fulfilling a new graduation requirement.

Sponsored by first-year Rep. James Petzke, R-Meridian, the financial literacy bill is a top legislative priority for new state superintendent Debbie Critchfield.

With Monday’s 67-0 House vote, the bill now goes to the Senate.

Bill introduced to eliminate March presidential primary

House State Affairs also took another initial step to remove March from the state’s election calendar.

The committee quickly introduced a bill to eliminate the March presidential primaries, moving those elections back to the May primary date.

The move could save about $2.7 million in 2024, and eliminate primaries that have failed to attract presidential hopefuls to the state, said Rep. Dustin Manwaring, R-Pocatello, the bill’s sponsor.

This move also comes as lawmakers are looking to scale back school election dates — including the March election date, which is most commonly used for supplemental property tax levies. The House on Friday passed a school election consolidation bill, which now goes to the Senate.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Kevin Richert
Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert writes for Idaho Education News, a nonprofit online news outlet supported by grants from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, the Education Writers Association and the Solutions Journalism Network.

Sadie Dittenber
Sadie Dittenber

Idaho Education News reporter Sadie Dittenber focuses on K-12 policy and politics. She is a College of Idaho graduate and was born and raised in the Treasure Valley. You can follow Sadie on Twitter @sadiedittenber and send her news tips at [email protected].