MLA Statement on 15 CSR 30-200.015 and HB 1159 - 02/17/23
The Missouri Library Association continues to oppose 15 CSR 30-200.015 Library Certification Requirement for the Protection of Minors and now opposes the HB 1159 filed in the House of Representatives on 2/15/2023. While the final version of the Secretary of State’s proposed rule reduces potential for frivolous challenges to library collections from any individual, it remains vague and continues to engender strife between the library and its community. The newly filed HB1159, however, makes no such distinction on who may challenge the library's collection. It goes beyond the rule to institute punitive damages against libraries and librarians for merely doing the work of the library, providing access to information resources.
Both the rule and HB 1159 assume that librarians are currently providing materials to minors or their communities that constitute "child pornography," are "pornographic for minors," and are "obscene." Providing materials to minors that constitute the legal definition of pornography as such is already illegal, and libraries already comply. The proposed rule as codified in HB 1159 forces librarians to be complicit in undermining their own institutions if they want access to state funding and creates the fear of prosecution for libraries and librarians. These provisions are short-sighted, unnecessary and disingenuous. During the comment period for the rule, 20,000 comments were submitted, and it was evident that most Missourians are opposed to such shackling of their libraries as a majority of the comments have been reported to be in opposition to the rule. If HB 1159 were to receive a public hearing, it is certain to face the same public opposition as the proposed rule. As both the proposed rule and this bill would reduce access based on the decisions of individuals, and as libraries are created to enable free and equal access to information for all, MLA is clearly opposed to this bill.