In a blatant act of retribution, Missouri House Republicans this week voted to completely defund the entire state's public libraries, after librarians filed a lawsuit with the ACLU over a new law that they say violates their First Amendment rights.
Should the bill pass Missouri's Republican-majority Senate and be signed into law by Missouri's Trump-endorsed Republican governor Mike Parson, all 399 of the state's public libraries would receive $0 in state funding, a cut of $4.5 million.
"Often when we tell the public about the things that are getting voted on in here, they think when we tell them what happened just today, that's got to be partisan rhetoric and hyperbole," lamented Missouri Democratic state Rep. Peter Merideth (video below), who is also an attorney. "It's not. These are the things actually passing."
"They actually took out all state aid from public libraries explicitly because librarians are suing over their First Amendment rights over a book ban," he continued, rubbing his temples in exasperation.
"I feel like we're starting to live in a dystopian future from like 1984 or Fahrenheit 411 or whatever – 451 – where we're talking about book bans from the government, and then the government being mad at librarians as the threat to our kids? And defunding public libraries. That's the real world here today in Republican-led Missouri."
VICE News confirms the GOP gutted all library funding in the House bill.
The $0 budget "comes after Republican House Budget Chairman Cody Smith proposed a $4.5 million cut to public libraries’ state aid last week in the initial House Budget Committee hearing, where Smith cited a lawsuit filed against Missouri by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri (ACLU-MO) as the reason for the cut."
The Associated Press adds that Rep. Smith "has said the state shouldn’t subsidize the lawsuit by giving public libraries money."
Since last summer Missouri librarians have been faced with charges of up to one year in prison or $2000 in fines "for giving students access to books the state has deemed sexually explicit," VICE explains. "The Missouri law defined explicit sexual material as images 'showing human masturbation, deviate sexual intercourse,' 'sexual intercourse, direct physical stimulation of genitals, sadomasochistic abuse,' or showing human genitals. The lawsuit claims that school districts have been pulling books from their shelves."
GOP Rep. Dirk Deaton says Republicans are doing it all for kids.
“It’s been said this is a book ban. This is not that,” Rep. Deaton said. “It is protecting innocent children.”
Watch the video below or at this link.