The people's voice of reason

Clean up Alabama urging Senate to take up library bill

On Monday, Clean Up Alabama executive director Hannah Rees sent out a notice for a call to action urging supporters to call their state Senator and urge passage of controversial library legislation that would hold librarians responsible if inappropriate materials were found in the children's section of a public library.

House Bill 385 (HB 385) is sponsored by State Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) declares that adults who "distribute material that is harmful to minors is a public nuisance," can be charged with a criminal offense.

Criminal offenses would also be created for anyone who engages in any "sexual or gender oriented conduct that knowingly exposes minors to persons who are dressed in sexually revealing, exaggerated, or provocative clothing or costumes, or are stripping, or engaged in lewd or lascivious dancing, presentations, or activities in K-12 public schools or public libraries where minors are expected and known to be present without parental presence or consent."

A librarian who refused to remove an obscene or pornographic book from the children's section of a public library or school library within seven days could be charged with a class C misdemeanor. That would be elevated to a class B misdemeanor on the second offense, and a class A misdemeanor on the third or subsequent offenses.

"We need YOUR help to get HB385 across the finish line (which will close the library loophole in our anti-obscenity laws)!!!" Resse urged her supporters. "We need the Senate to take this bill to the floor for a vote FAST! Time is running out in this legislative session- this week is the last opportunity! Please call Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed."

The group is asking for Reed to put HB385 on the senate calendar first on the list this week. The group is also asking supporters to call or text their local state senators and ask them to support HB385.

Tuesday is day 28 of the 2024 regular legislative session. The bill has already passed the House of Representatives. The Senate has made a number of changes to HB385 in committee. This means that the controversial legislation has to pass the Senate and then go back to the House for consideration of the Senate changes before it can go to the Governor.

The concern of the bill's supporters is that the legislature could come to an agreement on the budgets as early as Tuesday and then go home for a year leaving legislation such as this one unfinished in the process. Anything undone after the legislature finishes its work has to go back to step one for when the Legislature returns in session. Unless the Governor calls an unlikely special session, the Alabama Legislature will not return to work until 2025. The Alabama Constitution of 1901 limits the state Legislature to a maximum of 30 legislative days in a session; but they don't have to use all 30 of their days. At any point, once the budgets are done, either House of the Legislature can vote to end this session and go home until next year.

The Alabama Library Association opposes this legislation.


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