Ron DeSantis supports a bill to charge for “bad faith” book exceptions

banned books, First Amendment
Banned books. Displayed at The Hive St. Pete. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (Aug. 2023)

©2024 The News Service of Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday supported a House proposal that he said is designed to limit “bad-faith objections” to school library books and instructional materials.

The issue of school-book scrutiny has been a political battleground in Florida in recent years.

The Legislature and DeSantis since 2022 have approved measures that eased the process for people to object to books and other materials.

A House bill (HB 7025) includes imposing $100 “processing” fees for unsuccessful book objections.

The proposed fees would apply to people who do “not have a student enrolled in the school where the material is located” and have “unsuccessfully objected to five materials during the calendar year.”

During a news conference Thursday in Orlando, DeSantis criticized some book objections.

“Likewise, members of the community, although we like people wanting to be involved in what’s going on, to just show up and object to every single book under the sun, that is not an appropriate situation here. And we have seen that occasionally,” the governor said.

According to a House staff analysis of the bill, Florida had 1,218 book objections during the 2022-2023 fiscal year, resulting in the removal of 386 books, with the vast majority coming in Clay and Escambia counties.

The governor also appeared to endorse part of the bill that would exempt from the potential fees parents of students in schools where books face objections.

“If you have a kid in school, OK. But if you’re somebody who doesn’t have a kid in schools and you’re going to object to 100 books — no, I don’t think that that’s appropriate,” DeSantis said.

The bill, which also deals with other education issues, is positioned to go before the full House after getting approval from three panels.

Meanwhile, similar Senate bills do not include book-objection fees.

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