News - MLA
Thursday, February 23, 2023 12:00 AM

Note From Debbie

For the past year, MLA has watched irresponsible and egregious legislation introduced in states like Texas, Florida, Missouri, and others, on libraries and book censorship. Yesterday, we acknowledged that we are not immune here in Michigan. 

A northern Michigan legislator from Charlevoix Co. Representative Neil Friske (R-107) introduced (with no co-sponsors) House Bill 4136 which would amend the Library Privacy Act and require local public libraries to locate all sexually explicit and obscene material (not defined) in a restricted area of the library and only be accessible to those 18 years or older. Any individual finding the library out of compliance could file a complaint against the governing body of the library in court. If the court finds the library has failed to comply, the court would require the library to close until the violation has been resolved.

MLA has been expecting to see bills of this nature (and we are sure we will see more as the censorship battles continue.) Let us reiterate what you all know…libraries do not and cannot have obscene materials on their shelves. This proposed legislation does little more than send a message to Rep. Friske’s supporters and is not actually meant to take real legislative action. We also know that public libraries do not take on the role of a parent and it is a parent’s responsibility to decide what materials they will allow their own children to read. With that said, MLA will continue to monitor these types of bills because threats against the freedom to read are something every one of us should take seriously. 

MLA’s Reader Group, a small sub-group of the MLA Advocacy and Legislative Committee, reads and analyzes bills that affect libraries and makes recommendations for support or opposition. The committee has been in communication today and will be meeting early next week to determine if a response is warranted.

As the new 102nd legislature begins its work, we also thought it best to make sure that you know the steps involved in getting a bill to the finish line – it is a long and arduous process. The first step in any legislative process is an introduction of a bill. That doesn’t mean a bill that is introduced will advance and we all know that a lot of bad legislation (like the one introduced by Rep. Friske) languishes before ever making it to the next step. MLA is careful where we put our time and resources as we do not want to expend political capital on something that will not move through the legislative process.

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Deborah E. Mikula
Executive Director


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