Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Committee kills bill targeting 'obscene' materials in libraries

CCAC North Library

A House panel has killed a bill regulating the removal of obscene materials from school and public libraries at the state level.

Supporters of House Bill 1163 argued it would keep inappropriate books and other material out of students' hands. But the bill ultimately failed Wednesday in the House Education Committee amid concerns it removed local control.

Rep. Jon Hansen sponsored the bill. The Dell Rapids Republican said the bill is about protecting children.

“We live in a world that is filled with material that is harmful to minors," Hansen said. "From explicit images to violent images and language to hypersexualized content, and everything in between.”

Several parents spoke in favor of the bill during testimony, saying they feel left out of the process.

A number of organizations representing libraries and schools spoke against the bill. They said procedures outlined by the bill to remove objectionable books already exist at the local level - namely, school boards.

“So the safeguards are there," said Dianna Miller, a lobbyist representing several school districts. "But I think you need to look long and hard before you start putting more and more mandates on them, when you already have the policies and procedures.”

Other opponents said the bill could potentially stifle education and free speech. The ACLU of South Dakota released a statement calling HB 1163 "a blatant attempt at censorship, pure and simple."

The committee defeated the bill in a nine to three vote.

Josh Chilson is the news director at South Dakota Public Broadcasting. A Florence, S.D. native, Josh graduated with a journalism degree from South Dakota State University. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and videographer, and most recently as managing editor for Dakota News Now. Josh is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.