Image Credit: capitol.tn.gov
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
The Senate Education Committee passed a bill that aims to prohibit educational institutions from making materials that are considered “obscene” or “harmful to minors” available to students.
SB1944 passed the Committee with Republican Senators Jon Lundberg, Mike Bell, Rusty Crowe, Joey Hensley, Brian Kelsey and Dawn White voting in favor. Democrat Raumesh Akbari voted No. Senators Ferrell Haile and Bill Powers were present but chose not to vote.
The Senate bill sponsor, Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald-District 28) explained the amended bill to the committee by stating, “What the bill does is deal with obscenity and pornography that’s in our school libraries.”
Hensley explained that the bill sets up a process for parents that identify questionable materials in their child’s school libraries to inform their school superintendents, who will then be required to remove the materials for thirty days. At the next scheduled meeting, the local school board would be required to review the flagged materials and make the decision as to whether it is age appropriate or pornographic, obscene in nature. If found to be in violation, the elected officials of the local school board would make the final decision as to whether the materials should be removed or returned to the school.
*** Click Here to Support Conservative Journalism in Tennessee. We can’t cover stories like this without your support!***
In response to a question from Senator Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro-District 13), Hensley clarified that librarians would not be held criminally liable for inappropriate materials being in libraries unless specific materials were found that had already been reviewed and ordered to be removed permanently by the local school board.
Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin-District 18) raised concerns that too many books/materials would be removed at one time, that book reviewers might be overloaded and that directors of schools should have more of a ‘say’ in the process.
“I’m concerned about the overreaction, over-usage of this, whether it be political purposes or individual grievances,” Haile said.
Hensley replied by stating that the legislation requires the local school boards to adopt their own policies that could include limitations on the number of books an individual could flag at a given time.
“Once a book has been determined by the school board to not be obscene and not be pornographic, it cannot be contested again…that is some guarantee that there will not be a continual removal of books,” Hensley said.
Hensley went on to state that the objective of the legislation is to have elected officials (i.e. school board members) have the final authority on the materials, not school principals and superintendents who are appointed to their positions.
Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown-District 31) offered up an amendment to the bill that further clarified the policies local school boards could adopt – “The policy may limit the number of times that particular material may be reported or the number of materials one person may report at a time.”
Senator Hensley seconded the amendment and it passed by voice vote.
Upon taking a vote on the bill itself, the Senate Education Committee passed the bill with 6 votes in favor, 1 vote against and 2 persons present but not voting.
The bill now moves to the Senate Calendar Committee for scheduling to be heard on the Senate floor.
To support the passage of SB1944, contact your Senator. You can find their contact information HERE.
On the House side, HB1944, sponsored by Representative Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka-District 64), has cleared the House with 63 votes in favor with only the Democrats voting against.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com