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Senate Bill 1187 — minors, harmful materials, policies

Senate Bill 1187 — minors, harmful materials, policies

by
Anna Miller
March 22, 2023

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1187 creates a loophole for certain entities charged with distributing harmful materials to minors by providing that it is an affirmative defense if any school, college, university, museum, or public library had adopted policies to protect minors from harmful materials and provided training on such policies, and if the defendant is an employee that such employee followed the policies.

Rating: -1

Analyst Note: Senate Bill 1187 was amended to clarify on page two that it is an affirmative defense if the defendant school museum or public library "adopted polices to protect minors from harmful materials and provided training on such policies." This amendment did not change the rating of the bill.

Does the bill create more transparency or accountability in public education institutions? (+) Conversely, does the bill reduce transparency and accountability in such institutions? (-) 

Senate Bill 1187 reduces accountability in public educational institutions by providing a loophole to escape liability for certain entities charged with distributing harmful materials to minors by providing that it is an affirmative defense if any school, college, university, museum, or public library had adopted policies to protect minors from harmful materials and provided training on such policies, and if the defendant is an employee that such employee followed the policies. Under this provision educational institutions that distributed or promoted harmful material to minors would not be held responsible for their actions as long as the institution they work for had a policy and provided training to employees. 

(-1)

The bill increases transparency by mandating that boards create a policy and a review committee to assess the policy about purportedly eliminating the dissemination of harmful materials to minors.  

(+1)

The review committees for public and school libraries are appointed by the library or school board. However, boards have recently asserted during public hearings that they have not promoted or distributed any harmful materials, regardless of evidence proving the contrary. Boards have further asserted that even if their libraries do have harmful materials, it’s not their job to protect children. Therefore school and library boards can writ large be expected to resist reform efforts to prevent children from accessing harmful materials and cannot be trusted to establish policies and conduct trainings  that would hold their employees accountable and protect children. 

(-1)

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