North Dakota governor vetoes 1 library bill, signs another

Apr 26, 2023, 3:37 PM

North Dakota’s governor vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have required librarians under threat of criminal penalty to screen sexually explicit materials from children, but signed another barring explicit materials from the children’s sections of local and school libraries.

The Senate voted 33-14 to override Republican Gov. Doug Burgum’s veto hours later, though a similar House vote would be needed to make a veto override successful. The House had passed the bill on a 54-38 vote last week, several votes shy of a veto-proof majority.

“Protecting children from explicit sexual material is common sense,” Burgum said in a statement explaining why he signed one of the bills into law.

But he said the bill he vetoed would have created “an enormous burden” on hundreds of public libraries by imposing — under the threat of criminal prosecution — an expensive requirement that libraries review materials that have already been screened for age appropriateness. His statement said it would cost the state $300,000 initially to conduct such screening and $150,000 per year thereafter.

“This bill is unnecessary, vague, and will not only cause immediate hardship to our schools and libraries, but also opens the door to costly, and unnecessary litigation,” library coordinator Misti Frink had said in testimony against the bill this month. “Robust checks and balances are already in place for print and digital resource selections.”

Republican Sen. Janne Myrdal, of Edinburg, spoke on the Senate floor in urging her colleagues to override the governor’s veto, saying exposure to sexually explicit material “is devastating for young people’s brains and lives.”

“We deal with millions of dollars here. $150,000 is like a drop in the bucket to protect our children,” Myrdal said.

Language in the vetoed bill said prosecutors could charge a person with a class B misdemeanor — up to 30 days in prison and $1,500 in fines — for willfully displaying sexually explicit material at newsstands or any other business establishment visited by minors. It said this would not include colleges, universities, museums or art galleries but would include public libraries and public school libraries, among some other places.

Opponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota, have said the now-vetoed bill would promote government censorship and violate First Amendment rights to say, think, read and write whatever one wants without fear of government retaliation.

Across the country, attempted book bans and restrictions on libraries have surged, setting a record in 2022, according to a recent report by the American Library Association.

Some books have been targeted by liberals citing racist language — notably Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” — according to Deborah Caldwell-Stone, who directs the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

But the vast majority of complaints have come from conservatives, directed at works with LGBTQIA+ or racial themes, Caldwell-Stone has said.

Bills to restrict books have been proposed or passed in Arizona, Iowa, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Florida and other states.


Trisha Ahmed is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Trisha Ahmed on Twitter: @TrishaAhmed15

United States News

Associated Press

Downpours, high winds prompt weather warnings in Northeast

NEW YORK (AP) — Parts of the northeast were bracing for a stormy night Sunday, with high winds and heavy rains bringing threats of flooding and power outages through the Monday morning commute. Flood watches were in effect in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and southern New England through Monday. The National Weather Service said […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Woman arrested after driving her vehicle through a religious group on a sidewalk, Montana police say

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A woman has been arrested after she drove her vehicle several times at or through an unspecified religious group gathered on a sidewalk, hitting and injuring one man, Montana police said Sunday. Genevienne Rancuret, 55, was pulled over by police in Billings on Saturday a few hours after the episode and […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Students and lawmakers gather at Philadelphia temple to denounce antisemitism

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Students, lawmakers and religious leaders joined forces Sunday at a temple in Philadelphia to strongly denounce antisemitism on college campuses and in their communities. The gathering at Congregation Rodeph Shalom came one day after University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned amid criticism over her testimony at a congressional hearing. Magill was […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Illinois man who confessed to 2004 sexual assault and murder of 3-year-old girl dies in prison

CHICAGO (AP) — A man who confessed to the 2004 sexual assault and murder of a 3-year-old Illinois girl has died in a state prison, according to state records. Scott Eby, 52, an inmate at the Menard Correctional Center, died Thursday, according to an online inmate notification system. The death of Riley Fox, whose body […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Catholic priest in small Nebraska community dies after being attacked in church

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Catholic priest in a small Nebraska community died Sunday after being attacked in a church rectory, authorities said. The Rev. Stephen Gutgsell was assaulted “during an invasion at the rectory” of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, the Archdiocese of Omaha said in a Sunday statement. […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Police chase in Philadelphia ends in shootout that leaves 2 officers, suspect wounded

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A police pursuit of a suspected gunman ended in a shootout that left two officers and a suspect wounded, police said. The shooting happened around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, interim city Police Commissioner John Stanford said, after officers responded to reports of gunfire and saw a pickup truck that was occupied by a […]

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @iamdamonallred...

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Follow @KTAR923...

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.

North Dakota governor vetoes 1 library bill, signs another