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Illinois measure limiting tax dollars from local libraries that 'ban books' closer to gov's desk

The measure would make Illinois the first state in the nation to implement such a law.

Published: May 4, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

The Illinois Legislature passed a measure that would restrict state tax money from going to local libraries if they don't comply with standards from a national library group.

Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias spearheaded House Bill 2789. The measure limits state grants for libraries that, among other things, ban books because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval. The bill passed the House last month and passed the Senate on Wednesday. If approved by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the measure would make Illinois the first state in the nation to implement such a law.

Giannoulias called the passing a win for Illinoisans.

“This landmark legislation is a triumph for our democracy, a win for First Amendment rights, and most importantly, a great victory for future generations to come,” Giannoulias said.

The graphic novel "Gender Queer" by Maia Kobabe was the most challenged book of 2022, according to the American Library Association, because many argue its graphic depictions of sex acts as pornographic.

State Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, explained how the measure would affect those libraries that decide not to follow certain guidelines.

"House Bill 2789 provides that in order to be eligible for state grants, a library or library system must adopt the American Library Associations Bill of Rights," Murphy said.

The ALA Bill of Rights states that materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background or views of those contributing to their creation.

The measure received pushback from Republican lawmakers as some have questioned the partisanship of the bill.

State Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, said he opposes the measure for several reasons.

"A yes vote on this bill does two things. One, it deprives local taxpayers of the very revenue that they spend to support their local schools and libraries, and it allows unelected and unidentified random people of some organization at the federal level to ban books, set local policy, and usurp the authority of the local elected officials that our constituents voted into their positions, to make decisions on their behalf," Plummer said.

Plummer said Illinois Democrats are using their majority power in the legislature to push their agenda onto the people of Illinois.

"So yet again, we find ourselves in this position in the Illinois State Senate where the majority is trampling on the minority and pushing an ideology on Illinois citizens, regardless of where they live, regardless of what they believe," Plummer said.

After passing the House last month, the bill passed the Senate along party lines and now awaits to be sent to the governor's desk.

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