Monitoring library materials

Recently introduced legislation would require public libraries in schools and in Idaho communities to make more effort to provide age-appropriate material and inform the community of these efforts.

The bill defines material as harmful to minors if it:

— Appeals to a prurient interest in nudity, sex, or excretion

— Depicts, describes or represents in actual or simulated sexual acts or sexual contact, actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual acts or a lewd exhibition of the genitals

— Lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value to minors.

Policies determined by the school district board of trustees and the library board of trustees in a community (following a public meeting) would need to determine the following for regulating library materials by October 2023:

— Standards regarding the selection and access to materials such as requirements for clearly identified shelving areas for children’s, teen and adult materials (or in the case of schools by age group or grade level) with clear labels that material is intended for a specific age group or grade level.

The boards would also need to create a process where parents or legal guardians can challenge the inclusion of certain materials in the library collection.

This process must include an opportunity for challenges to be presented at a meeting of the school board or library board where members of the community provide their input on the challenge.

Restricting access to drag shows

Sen. Ben Toews introduced legislation prohibiting the use of public facilities (such as city, county or state parks, or city, county or state-owned venues or performing arts centers) for live performances containing sexual conduct such as drag, burlesque and erotic dancing shows.

Promoters, organizers and performers using private facilities would need to take reasonable steps to restrict the access of minors such as checking IDs.

The two main critiques of the bill are it violates free speech and that it unfairly targets drag shows and members of the LGBTQ community.

“Our art form has recently been titled as ‘sexually exploitative’ and ‘child grooming,’ which I feel is a very harmful image to be putting out there,” said Riley Burrows, a 22-year-old full-time drag queen, in an Idaho Capital Sun article. “Drag is not exploitation, it is embracing. It is a love letter to yourself and accepting who you really are without having the world beat you down for it.”

Blaine Conzatti, the president of Idaho Family Policy Center, said this bill does not aim to target any group or performance in particular, but would apply to all groups equally.

“It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about sexually explicit striptease or a sexually explicit drag show, neither belongs in a public park and neither belongs in a public facility or any other place where any children are present,” Conzatti said in an Idaho Capital Sun article.

Conzatti added that the restriction doesn’t apply to gender-bent performances as seen in Shakespeare or Mrs. Doubtfire.

Fixing fentanyl sentencing

Rep. Judy Boyle proposed mandatory minimums for fentanyl as well as other changes to Idaho’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing statute.

“Idaho is in the midst of a fentanyl crisis,” the bill’s statement of purpose said. “Not only is it deadly, it is often laced into other pills or drugs — even black-market vape cartridges — and a person won’t even know it.”

This bill would impose mandatory minimum prison sentences and fines on those found with seven grams or more of fentanyl:

— If a person possesses between seven and 14 grams of fentanyl, they will be fined a minimum of $10,000 and serve at least three years in prison

— If a person possesses between 14 and 28 grams of fentanyl, they will be fined a minimum of $15,000 and serve at least five years in prison

— If a person possesses more than 28 grams of fentanyl, they will be fined a minimum of $25,000 and serve at least ten years in prison

The bill would give judges discretion for first-time drug convictions for other drugs that would allow them to distinguish between trafficking and addiction.

Other changes to mandatory minimum laws would include:

— Requiring prosecutors to prove intent to distribute

— Requiring weight be limited to the illegal substance

Alien voting

The Idaho House of Representatives introduced legislation prohibiting non-citizens from voting.

While it is illegal for non-citizens to vote in federal elections, cities throughout the country have begun adjusting these laws for local elections. According to Ballotpedia, at least 15 cities in the U.S. allowed noncitizens to vote in some or all local elections as of February 2023.

If this law is signed by the governor, it would go into effect on July 1, 2023.

Abortion trafficking

Legislators from eastern Idaho introduced a bill making it illegal to transport or recruit a minor for an abortion without parental consent. Doing so would lead to a felony charge and a two to five-year prison sentence.

The bill also includes a civil enforcement action that would allow people to sue providers or people who knowingly or recklessly performed an abortion under the circumstances outlined. The action could be filed up to six years after the abortion occurred.

The Senate affairs committee advanced the bill and the bill will go to the House floor for a vote.