2023 Legislative Wrap Up

The 2023 Legislative Session has come to an end.  It was a session of ups and downs, full of challenges.  Ultimately, what we ended up with was a mixed bag of legislation and time to gather ourselves for what will surely be a continuation of this year's session.  

On the book banning front, H314 was vetoed by Governor Little and at the very last moment, 24 Representatives voted to sustain Governor Little's veto.  This was enough to scuttle H314 for the near future.  At times it seems difficult to celebrate small victories in light of some of the larger looming pieces of new legislation, but a little can be glimmered from the 10 Democratic and 14 Republican Representatives who voted to sustain the veto on H314.  So for now, the fining of libraries, criminalization of librarian, and the overt push to keep books off the shelves has be laid to rest. Two tangential bills, S1187 and S1188, both were sent back to committee and, in essence, are dead in the current form for the time being. 

In regards to these bills, the success of not seeing them passed into law is due to diligent attention, active lobbying, and community comments spearheaded by the Idaho Library Association. Without the testimony of so many interested and vested parties and the on-going conversations between the ILA, community members, and our legislators, H314, S1187, and S1188 would have become law in Idaho.  The power of personal involvement and commitment cannot be underestimated and to each and every one of you who called, emailed, testified, attended hearings, and passed the word, THANK YOU!  Idaho is one of the few states this year that saw these types of bills defeated.  

This does not mean that the fight is over.  As was seen with the Meridian Library District, a small group of vocal people can create rifts, but they also create opportunities.  At the hearings in front of the Ada County Commissioners on the dissolution of the Meridian Library District, over 1,500 people made their voices heard in support of the library district.  So many voices in concert about the valuable place that libraries hold in our communities.  Sadly, we are only seeing the beginning of the assaults on access to books and information.  School districts continue to "shadow ban" books, moving them behind the counter, requiring parental permission to check them out, and the on-going pressure to replace current board members with ones who are sympathetic to those who want to limit our access to books.  Local library board elections are upcoming and it is important that we are vigilant about who is being opposed and why.  The legislators may have recessed, but those who want to ban books have not.  

So, here is our call to action - VOTE! Register if you are not.  Register friends and family.  But more importantly, VOTE.  Get out and vote.  Take friends and family to vote.  Be aware of what your local library boards are facing.  Be aware of what books are silently being sidelined in school and public libraries.  Watch your local library policies.  Many libraries are seriously contemplating disallowing library cards for anyone under the age of 18, limiting our youngest readers freedom to read. 

#FreedomToRead allows us to tell all stories.  

#FreedomToRead lets all of us see ourselves in books.

#FreedomToRead is what makes our communities stronger and more resilient.  

Support #FreedomToRead in any way possible--read, vote, share books, support librarians, but most of all stay aware.