COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Senate lawmakers passed an amendment in the State's budget this week which would cut off funding to public libraries who show "materials that appeal to the prurient interest" to children under the age of 13.
The provision also states these materials must only be made available with explicit consent.
Senator Josh Kimbrell (R-Spartanburg) proposed the amendment after hearing many complaints from parents in his county about material their children were reading in public libraries.
“I’m not out here trying to ban books or cut library funding. I’m trying to protect the innocence of kids and the rights of parents," said Kimbrell.
Now local libraries are lining up against it. Richland Library Executive Director Melanie Huggins said the language amounts to censorship.
“We don’t purchase pornography and put that on our library shelves for children anyway. It’s unnecessary," said Huggins.
Huggins adds Richland Library has never received complaints about library materials.
“If someone is concerned about a library material there is a process in place and every library in South Carolina has that process,” said Huggins.
According to Huggins, the Richland County Library System would lose $1 million per year if the proposal passes.
“I would hate to see it pass cause it will have a negative impact on libraries ability to serve their communities," said Huggins.
However, Kimbrell stands by his proposal, arguing libraries will only lose funding if they choose not to comply.
“We’re saying if you put pornography in front of kids, we will dock your budget for that, yes.”
Huggins said the way the provision is written is vague, making compliance difficult.
“That's what’s worrisome. It’s vague and could be applied in ways that were not intended," said Huggins.
The budget now heads to the house who will decide whether to adopt the amendment.
The budget is likely to head to a conference committee of Senators and House members to come to a compromise.