NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Republican supermajority at the capitol is going after more books, this time books the GOP says contain pornographic material in them.
The bill (HB 1944) is receiving backlash and could criminally charge librarians.
Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, is moving forward with the support of his party on a bill to ban library books and criminally punish educators providing access to what they call “pornography and inappropriate content in books.”
Victoria Jackson, a former ‘SNL’ cast member, testified at the House Criminal Justice hearing. Jackson moved to Tennessee a decade ago and was among those at the packed in the hearing making accusations supporting the removal of books.
“I soon found out there was pornography obscenity and profanity in our school libraries in some textbooks,” she said.
Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, was also in attendance.
“I don’t appreciate what’s going into our libraries it’s not good for our children and shame on you for putting it there,” he said.
The bill takes a strong-arm approach from the state government to control the content in Tennessee libraries.
Educators and supporters also packed the room. They say the bill being considered is unconstitutional.
“Removal of books from a school library may violate students’ 1st amendment rights if the removal is based on an unconstitutional motivation,” said Lindsey Kimery, former president of Tennessee Association of School Librarians.
Kimery added, “Librarians are always here to work with parents, we welcome this partnership — it’s a better use of your time to support the Age-Appropriate Materials Act and the State School Library Coordinator Bill.”
Democrats say Republicans are taking an authoritarian approach to public schools.
“Banning children from access to literature, criminalizing librarians is wrong, I’m offended that my librarians were compared to sex predators, and pedophiles lurking around in white vans that means someone doesn’t even know what the bill does and has no idea what a librarian does,” said Rep. G.A Hardaway, D-Memphis.
An initial violation of the law could be a class ‘A‘ misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $50,000 – which is already in Tennessee’s laws.
The bill will be heard next in the full Criminal Justice Committee.