After legislator threatens 'book burning,' lawmakers can't reach decision on Tennessee school library bill

Tennessee School Libraries Scrutiny
Posted at 8:42 PM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 21:42:00-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The state House and Senate passed a bill that makes rules on approved books for Tennessee schools but can't reach an agreement on an identical bill.

It comes on a year when the state scrutinized the content of certain books.

The House's version of the bill would mean libraries have to make sure that books not on a state-approved list weren't available for students.

Many Republican state lawmakers were vocal about this throughout the year and is connected to an effort to prohibit books in the library that some people believe were "obscene."

The House bill makes the textbook commission create a list of approved books and also gives a way for parents to petition items approved by the state.

The sponsor of this bill, Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, said he wants to make sure there are age-appropriate books in schools.

State Democrats were also vocal against this bill.

"Let's say you take these books out of the library, what are you going to do with them? You going to put them in the street? Light them on fire? Where are they going?" asked Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville said.

"I don't have a clue, but I would burn them," Rep. Sexton responded.

Under the House bill, there would be 12 people on this commission voting on the books.

That version is different from the Senate's version. It would simply require the library commission to make recommendations to local school districts about library content.

The House and Senate were unable to come to a decision on the bill's third amendment in the house.

They'll go to what's called a conference committee, where members from each body will have to compromise on a bill.

That's scheduled for Thursday morning.