~Thanks to John Thill, ILA Legislative Committee Chair, for sharing this recap and update on H0194.
On April 4th, 2019 Governor Brad Little signed H0194 into law. Sponsored by Representative Clow and Senator Mortimer, The law is a reiteration of wireless filtering bills that have been drafted by Idaho legislators previously and puts in places some major new requirements for Idaho libraries. The bill requires libraries to do the following:
- Have in place an internet safety policy that also applies to wireless internet offered by the library.
- Have in operation a “technology protection measure” or filter that screens wireless internet from visually obscene depictions, child pornography and “material harmful to minors.”
- When minors are using a wireless connection, it must be filtered.
- Post a notice in a conspicuous place in the library that an internet policy is available.
The law also contains some definitions as to what constitutes obscene material and requires libraries to comply by July 1, 2020.
For some of you this may be the first time you have heard of this new law. For the last several months the Idaho Library Association has been fighting an uphill battle to block H0194 from passage on the grounds that it acts as an unfunded mandate, it lacks any provision to assess the actual needs throughout the state fiscally or otherwise, and because it will have an outsized impact on small and rural libraries. Here some of the steps that the Association took this year to oppose the bill as it made its way through the legislative process:
Fall 2018 Prior to the beginning of the 2019 Session, ILA lobbyist John Watts met with Representative Lance Clow about whether he intended to rerun his wireless filtering bill from last year. Clow stated that it seemed unlikely that he would have time to work on it with the school funding model being negotiated in this year’s session.
December 2018 We learn that Rep. Lance Clow will be heading the House Education Committee and that Senator Mortimer, a legislator who brought a previous wireless filtering bill to committee, will once again be Senate Education Committee Chair.
December 2018 The ILA Lobbyist met with Craig Cobia from Citizens for Decency (Rexburg based anti-pornography group). Cobia has been the main behind-the-scenes impetus for the bill over the last two years. Lobbyist John Watts asked Cobia to support and assessment of current library filtering and future needs in lieu of pushing another wireless filtering bill through without sufficient data. Cobia ostensibly agreed that this would be good path forward
February 21, 2019 With the education funding formula stalled, Clow decides to run his wireless filtering bill. As soon as we hear of the bill being printed we schedule a meeting with Representative Clow to ask him to hold off and request an assessment instead.
February 25, 2019 After two cancellations by Clow’s office, lobbyist John Watts and ILA Legislative Chair John Thill meet with Clow in order to encourage him to take a slower approach to his bill, which is likely to have a sizable effect on small libraries. Clow is asked to support an assessment plan to see what the true fiscal impact of the bill will be. He says he will consider it. We also discuss the bill’s unfunded fiscal note. He is evasive on how he came up with the dollar amount of $62,500
Week of February 25, 2019 The bill was added to Clow’s Education Committee schedule, to be read March 4th, 2019. ILA initiated a campaign to get directors with libraries in the committee members’ districts to write or call their representatives asking them to block the bill in favor of the assessment plan and to dispute the bill’s fiscal note. At this point ILA is not particularly hopeful in blocking the bill at the House Committee level due to the committee’s composition and Clow’s position as Chair
March 4, 2019 H0194 passes out of committee, scheduled to be read before the full House March 6th, 2019.
March 6, 2019 Bill passes the House with near unanimity (67-3) and is sent to Senate Education Committee
March 6, 2019 ILA hosts its annual Day at the Capitol meetings with legislators. At a meeting with majority leadership, we request that the speaker and the pro tempore come out in favor of an assessment as opposed to an unfunded bill. In our meeting with the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) leadership we ask that they take a closer look at the bill’s fiscal note, which has no funding mechanism and was not calculated using any library data. The meeting with JFAC leaders is encouraging.
Week of March 11, 2019 We begin an ILA campaign to get directors with libraries in the Senate Education committee members’ districts to write or call their representatives asking them to block the bill in favor of the assessment plan and to dispute the bill’s fiscal note. ILA lobbyist continues negotiations with Senate Committee Chairman Mortimer.
March 19, 2019 The bill is read before Senate Education Committee. A number of library representatives recruited by ILA testify, disputing the bill’s timeline and fiscal note. The bill passes from Committee with a recommendation to amend the fiscal impact and the compliance date.
Week of March 22, 2019 The bill is almost dropped by Senate leadership, but Mortimer pushes it through to the full Senate with only one minor amendment, changing the compliance date to July 1, 2020.
March 26, 2019 Heard before the full Senate, passes though with less support than in the House (25-10 in favor).
Week of March 26 and April 1 The bill is engrossed with the new amendment included and passed by the Senate.
April 4, 2019 Governor Little signs the bill into law.
Throughout the process the Idaho Library Association worked with legislators create a more data driven approach to looking at filtering in Idaho libraries. Unfortunately, in this case, the leadership in the House and Senate Education Committees ignored the majority of our proposed amendments and compromises. We were, however, able to secure an extension for the bill’s enactment date, moving it back a year from the date proposed by Representative Clow.
The compositions of the two Education committees this year made this a particularly difficult fight. As ILA’s Legislative Chair I would like to personally thank anyone who called or emailed their legislator this year to discuss this bill. As we move forward, I would like to encourage all libraries in Idaho to work to forge a relationship with their legislators. The more our elected officials know about the amazing things we do in libraries the less likely they will focus their efforts on dictating how we do our work. Thank you for your continued support.