New Mexico’s Anti-Book Ban Bill Is Dead

Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

Despite excitement and enthusiasm–in addition to being one of the states with the fewest book bans over the last several years–the bill which would limit book bans in the state of New Mexico has been killed.

House Bill 123 was filed by Representative Kathleen Cates and mirrored much of the bill that passed in Illinois last year. Public libraries in New Mexico would be required to include the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and include language that notes books will not be excluded or removed from shelves due to “partisan or doctrinal disapproval” in collection policies in order to receive state funds. HB 123 passed through two committee meetings–the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee and the House Education Committee.

Despite those passages and being put onto the House schedule, HB 123 never made it to vote before the state’s legislative session closed February 15.

“I am very disappointed. We worked very hard in getting this bill on the Governor’s Call List and educating our Legislators regarding the bill,” explained Cates to the Rio Rancho Observer. “In a 30 day session, bills without appropriations cannot progress without being on the Governor’s Call List. Then once you get it through 2 Committees , the Speaker must do the math on how many bills can go through in how many days are left in the session.”

Library workers across the state rallied in support of the bill. It was an opportunity to get the word out there about what is happening with books in the New Mexico and beyond.

Cates plans to revive the bill if elected for another term in the state’s upcoming election.

“This bill will clearly state that value and protect librarians who are being targeted for following their own process,” she said.

Several other states have bills in their legislature that would limit book banning. Among those still alive in the system are Massachusetts (its current filing date was extended until June), Colorado (the Senate education committee will hear it on February 26), Kansas (the bill was referred to the Committee on Federal and State Affairs), New Jersey (the Senate Committee on Education will hear it March 14), Washington (a second hearing will take place by the Rules Committee soon), Virginia (where it passed both the House and Senate), Oregon (a Senate Committee on Rules Work Session is scheduled for today, February 22, from 3-5 p.m.), and Maryland (where it was heard February 21, with no update yet on post-hearing progress).