Supporters of a measure restricting sexually explicit library books are making a last push for the final passage of a bill removing school and public library obscenity exceptions in the final days of the legislative session.

House Bill 385 (HB 385) by State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) addresses the statewide controversy surrounding sexually explicit or obscene children's books in Alabama libraries.

Current law states, "It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly distribute, possess with intent to distribute, or offer or agree to distribute any obscene material or any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for anything of pecuniary (monetary) value. Material not otherwise obscene may be obscene under this section if the distribution of the material, the offer to do so, or the possession with the intent to do so is a commercial exploitation of erotica solely for the sake of prurient appeal."

The state's obscenity laws do not apply to public libraries, public school libraries, college libraries, university libraries or their employees. HB 385 would provide that criminal obscenity laws do not apply to college or university libraries or their employees or agents but do apply to public libraries and public school libraries.  

Clean Up Alabama, the group formed out of the Prattville Library fight to remove sexually explicit books, is making a final push to get the bill signed into law with only three legislative days left in the session. It is calling on supporters to contact lawmakers to advocate for the bill.

After clearing the House, the Senate Children and Youth Help Committee passed the legislation last week. However, lawmakers stated that the bill would have to be amended to address concerns before going to the Senate floor for a vote.

“We are so close to having a law that holds our libraries accountable for the books they offer children, and your phone calls make a difference,” Clean Up Alabama said in a statement.

“YOU are making a difference with every call, text and email you send to lawmakers and elected officials. YOU are making a difference when you go to local board and city meetings to let your voice be heard.”

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