Heather Cloud’s (R 8/10) fantastic SB7 (now Act 436) echoes policy language previously adopted by the Lafayette Library Board of Control on February 15th of this year. That language resolves some ambiguity surrounding age appropriate materials in the public library. While the bill was amended somewhat along the way, it’s still a very strong document. This new state-wide library policy protects children from accidentally stumbling across sensitive materials while simultaneously reassuring parents that our libraries are prioritizing the protection their children’s innocence.
To be sure, this battle is never over. However, after nearly five years, we’ve finally witnessed an incredible victory for children who visit public libraries in Louisiana.
A look back at how far we’ve come
While nearly every conservative organization in the state was excited about this bill, none of them more so than Citizens for a New Louisiana. It’s been nearly five years since drag queen activist Dylan Pontiff stood before the Lafayette City-Parish council and famously admitted, “we’re trying to groom the next generation.”
Since then, the Lafayette community has been united against the use of government resources to sexualize our children. The Lafayette Parish Council has remained vigilant against leftist-progressive attempts to reinsert their agenda into the Lafayette Public Library system. The council systematically appointed people to the board who have not tried to politicize the library or engage in controversial culture wars. That doesn’t mean that the culture wars haven’t come looking for them, though.
These kinds of battles were very difficult at first because the library board had already been quietly overrun by leftist-progressives. In the last five years, though, and thanks to our intense focus, as of April, 2023, every single library board member who attempted to have a drag show for three year olds has now been replaced. Some of these removed members still have the chutzpah to lecture the new board. Ranging from “systemic racism” to “censorship,” the new board has been battered at nearly every meeting. Due to relentless, withering assaults by these woke leftists, we’ve occasionally had to quickly reinforce the board with fresh replacements.
At one point local media outlets were wringing their hands over the library’s new director, Danny Gillane. They brought negative attention simply because he refused to participate in the political gamesmanship. We all agree that the library exists to encourage literacy, not foist socially or politically divisive conversations on the local community. At one point, the media almost drove the director to resign. Thankfully, he has remained a steady and stalwart supporter of all things library. As far as I’m concerned, he should have that job for as long as he’d like it. Perhaps Act 436 will redirect the woke leftists to some new outlet, and his job will return to the quiet routine that every good librarian deserves.
Then the battle went state-wide
When word of our tremendous victories began to reach other parishes, concerned citizens reached out to duplicate our success. We went to Livingston, Rapides, St. Tammany, and other parishes. In Livingston, one nutty librarian even sued us for telling the public what she was advocating for at a local library board meeting. Of course, the judge declared that her attempt was nothing more than a “strategic lawsuit against public participation” or SLAPP suit. In other words, the judge agreed that this librarian was attempting to censor us by weaponizing the courts.
That process isn’t quite complete, however. She’s continued her attempts to weaponize the courts against the freedom of speech and the press. So far, the process has been a small bother. However, her attempts to silence us has backfired worse than she could have ever imagined. Now, even the international press has taken notice of our efforts and success. You can read about some of our recent notoriety here.
Lafayette already implemented this fix way back in February
It was in February of 2023 when Lafayette Parish’s Library Board President, Robert Judge, successfully implemented a new library policy to protect children. It was effectively the same concept that Heather Cloud (R 8/10) and Julie Emerson (R 9/10) introduced in March, with their bills SB7 and HB102 respectively. That is, remove all ambiguity by actually defining what is sexually erotic and pornographic content.
The policy provides tools to assist local librarians in determining what books are not appropriate for children. In times past, this kind of specificity was not necessary. However, times being what they are, we must now protect meek librarians from woke lunatics and their temper tantrums. Now, instead of possibly having to face someone aggressively yelling “bigot,” librarians are now empowered to quietly remove inappropriate books to the adult section.
The legislative process to resolve this age appropriate issue has been less than smooth. Right out of the gate, HB102 by Julie Emerson (R 9/10) was placed in the wrong committee by Clay Schexnayder (R 1/10). Clearly stated in House Rule 6.6F(13), public library bills are all sent to the education committee. However, the makeup of that committee is predisposed to passing the bill. Instead, Schex erroneously directed the bill to Municipal Affairs, which is anything but favorable. That effectively killed the House version of the age appropriate library bill.
However, witnessing this fate sparked the reformers to ensure that House rules would be followed when Heather Cloud’s identical bill (SB7) came over from the Senate. As such, it appropriately landed in the education committee and was quickly passed by a margin of 8:3. Once on the floor, however, the contemptible Tanner Magee (R 2/10) managed to get his amendment 3517(8) bolted on at the last possible moment. That amendment would have allowed libraries to require TWENTY (20) complaints on an erotic book before it could even be considered for removal to the adult section. It’s anyone’s guess why the House agreed by a vote of 61:42.
Since this Senate bill was amended in the House, the Senate was required to concur. Thankfully, the Senate unanimously rejected the amendments; forcing the bill into conference committee. Even with Magee serving on the conference committee, his dreadful amendment was finally stripped. Then the bill went on to become law by the narrowest of margins. The Senate approved the conference report with a one-vote margin of 21:13, while the house vote was a more substantial 68:26. Both votes were clearly insufficient to overcome an earlier promised veto. However, the various amendments the bill picked up along the way were sufficient for John Bel Edwards to acquiesce with his signature – and the bill became law.