Georgia GOP senators target American Library Association with new bill

Republican Georgia senators want to influence book availability, seeking to cut off funding for local libraries affiliated with the American Library Association. MoveOn Political Action's Banned Bookmobile distributed free banned books, these titles included, at the kickoff of National Banned Book Week on Sunday, Oct 1, 2023, at libraries at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur Square. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Republican Georgia senators want to influence book availability, seeking to cut off funding for local libraries affiliated with the American Library Association. MoveOn Political Action's Banned Bookmobile distributed free banned books, these titles included, at the kickoff of National Banned Book Week on Sunday, Oct 1, 2023, at libraries at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur Square. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Republicans in the Georgia Senate have turned a new page in the culture war over books.

Nearly two dozen of them, including several high-ranking members, have signed onto legislation that seeks to ban government funding for libraries affiliated with the American Library Association, which they claim is influenced by Marxist ideology.

Senate Bill 390, introduced Wednesday, would deny ALA-affiliated libraries any taxpayer funding from Georgia’s cities, counties, public schools, the state University System and other public bodies created under the state Constitution or laws.

It’s the latest GOP measure to take aim at books and culture issues, after legislation in past years that limited classroom discussions about race, participation by transgender athletes and the types of books allowed in school libraries. A Cobb County teacher was fired last year after reading a book to her fifth grade students that challenges gender norms.

Republican senators last year also introduced legislation that would strip criminal legal protection from school librarians who let students check out books found to be obscene.

The lead sponsor of SB 390 is Sen. Larry Walker III, R-Perry, the majority caucus secretary of the Senate. Several other high-ranking Republican senators, including President Pro Tem John F. Kennedy, Majority Leader Steve Gooch, Majority Caucus Chair Jason Anavitarte and Vice Chair Matt Brass, signed onto the bill.

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