posted on wed, feb. 08, 2006

bill to restrict minors' access to smut at libraries advances

associated press

children couldn't view internet pornography or check out r-rated movies at public libraries anywhere in kansas under a bill that won first-round approval wednesday in the house.

the house action sets up a final vote, expected thursday. passage would send the measure to the senate, which ignored similar legislation in 2004.

this year's bill would require libraries to put filtering software on computers used by minors or enact a policy of allowing children to view what they wanted only if their parents consented in writing. a library that didn't do either would face losing state funds, starting in 2008.

libraries also would be required to have policies saying children under 17 couldn't check out r-rated movies without a parent present. currently such policies vary from library to library.

supporters said the bill would help parents shield their children from harmful or inappropriate material in an increasingly dangerous world.

"with the issues we deal with on sex predators and sex offenders, it only makes common sense that we protect our children," said rep. mary pilcher cook, r-shawnee.

rep. becky hutchins, r-holton, drafted the proposal as an amendment to a minor library tax bill. house members approved the amendment, 107-16, despite having had no hearings on it.

hutchins sought similar legislation in 2004. it won house approval but died in the senate.

a few house members argued the state should trust libraries to handle such issues. many already use filtering software, they said.

"i think they're well-intentioned," said rep. eber phelps, d-hays. "they do their best to create a nice, clean environment."

other house members had concerns about potential cost for libraries, which prompted them to vote 69-53 for an amendment requiring the state to pay for filtering software if libraries needed it.

but hutchins said libraries already can get such software free through the state library, adding, "there are options out there that will not cost a dime."


library bill is hb 2581.

on the net:

kansas legislature:

i? 1/2 2006 ap wire and wire service sources. all rights reserved.

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