Advocacy Alerts

February 25, 2021

Call to action- Bills to Criminalize School Librarians: “Distribution of Harmful Materials to Minors”

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HB 516 and SB 226 are currently assigned to their respective body’s judiciary committees for consideration. Both bills seek to revise Georgia Code to remove school libraries from the library exception to criminal prosecution for “distribution of harmful materials to minors.” This is a simplified version of a bill last year which did not pass out of the committee, and our goal is that these two bills also remain in committee this year. Both bills propose to move the word “school” from this section:

§ 16-12-104. Library exception

The provisions of Code Section 16-12-103 shall not apply to any public library operated by the state or any of its political subdivisions nor to any library operated as a part of any school, college, or university.

 

Please email, call, or otherwise contact members of the House and Senate committees to which these bills are now assigned (listed below), and ask them to not pass this bill onto the floor. You may identify yourself as a school librarian, member of GLMA, and constituent in their district if that applies (or friend/family of constituent who may also contact them). You do not need to contact your own legislators now unless they are on one of these committees or you have an existing relationship and you want to be proactive.

If you elect to call, please remember to do so outside your working hours and from a personal phone. If you email, please do not use your school email account and also send the email outside school hours. You may identify the school or district in which you work to establish credibility but provide your home address and phone number if requested.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact any Advocacy Coordinator; Nan Brown (nantbrown@gmail.com), Amanda Lee (amandalee0429@gmail.com) or Erin Baker (erindon@bellsouth.net)

House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee members (refer to House Bill 516)

James Burchett (Chair)    james.burchett@house.ga.gov      (404) 656-5105     Waycross, GA

Bert Reeves (V Chair)       bert.reeves@house.ga.gov            (404) 651-7737     Marietta, GA

Micah Gravley                  micah.gravley@house.ga.gov        (404) 656-5025     Douglasville, GA

Mandi Ballinger               mandi.ballinger@house.ga.gov     (404) 656-7153     Canton, GA

William Boddie                william.boddie@house.ga.gov      (404) 656-0287     East Point, GA

Charlice Byrd                    charlice.byrd@house.ga.gov         (404) 656-0213     Woodstock, GA

Sharon Cooper                 sharon.cooper@house.ga.gov      (404) 656-5069     Marietta, GA

Chuck Efstration               chuck.efstration@house.ga.gov   (404) 656-5125      Dacula, GA

Dar'shun Kendrick            darshun.kendrick@house.ga.gov (404) 656-0109      Lithonia, GA

Zulma Lopez                     zulma.lopez@house.ga.gov          (404) 656-0298      Atlanta, GA

Josh McLaurin                  josh.mclaurin@house.ga.gov        (404) 656-0202      Atlanta, GA

Martin Momtahan            martin.momtahan@house.ga.gov (404) 656-0178     Dallas, GA

Steven Sainz                     steven.sainz@house.ga.gov           (404) 656-0178     Woodbine, GA

Ed Setzler                         ed.setzler@house.ga.gov               (404) 656-5143     Acworth, GA

Tyler Paul Smith               tyler.smith@house.ga.gov              (404) 657-1803     Bremen, GA

Senate Judiciary Committee (refer to Senate Bill 226)

Brian Strickland (chair)      brian.strickland@senate.ga.gov   (404) 463-6598     McDonough, GA

Bill Cowsert (v-chair)         bill.cowsert@senate.ga.gov          (404) 463-1366     Athens, GA

John Kennedy                   john.kennedy@senate.ga.gov      (404) 656-0045     Macon, GA

Bo Hatchett                       bo.hatchett@senate.ga.gov         (404) 656-7454     Cornelia, GA

Harold Jones II                  harold.jones@senate.ga.gov        (404) 656-0036     Augusta, GA

Kay Kirkpatrick                   kay.kirkpatrick@senate.ga.gov     (404) 656-3932    Marietta, GA

Elena Parent                      elena.parent@senate.ga.gov        (404) 656-5109    Atlanta, GA

Michael 'Doc' Rhett          michael.rhett@senate.ga.gov       (404) 656-0054    Marietta, GA

Blake Tillery                       blake.tillery@senate.ga.gov          (404) 656-5038    Vidalia , GA

Ben Watson                       ben.watson@senate.ga.gov          (404) 656-7880    Savannah, GA

Should you opt to call their offices, you will almost certainly speak with a staffer (who often will be assigned to multiple people) rather than the legislator him/herself. Identify yourself, that you would like to leave a message for the specific member in his/her role on the Judiciary Committee, the bill number, and that as a library media specialist in Georgia you oppose passage of this bill out of committee. You may add that your opposition is based on the fact that the bill would criminalize “distribution of harmful materials to minors” and any personal opinion you have about the subject nature of this and censorship. (See state regulations below regarding selection and reconsideration policies already required of all schools and districts.)

If you would prefer to email, you may provide as much information as you wish but it will improve credibility to identify yourself as a library media specialist in a specific school district at least. (Hearing from Georgia residents obviously has more impact on legislators.) Share some variation of this message:

Dear Representative/Senator XXX,

My name is XXX and I have been a library media specialist/teacher librarian/xxx in Georgia for XX years (and/or am now a LMS/TL at XXX School/in XXX school district). I am also a member of Georgia Library Media Association and through this group have learned that HB/SB XXX is currently under consideration in your committee.

I am very concerned/ troubled/synonym about HB/SB which would remove school librarians from the criminal exception to Georgia code related to “distribution of harmful materials to minors.” I ask that you do NOT pass this bill from your committee as local school districts are already required to have a process for reconsideration of materials in their school libraries, with appeals through local districts and the state Board of Education. (Personalize here if you’d like)

Thank you for your time/consideration/etc

Signature

 

State of Georgia Rule 160-4-4-.01 Media Programs

Requirements:

(a) Each local board of education shall adopt a media policy that

1. Provides for the establishment of a media committee at the system level and at each school.

2. Requires development of procedures for the school system and for

(i) Selecting materials locally,

(ii) Handling requests for reconsideration of materials,

(iii) Considering gifts of instructional resources,

(iv) Using non-school owned materials,

(v) Complying with copyright law.

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