Georgia Senate Passes Bill Banning Taxpayer, Private Funds For American Library Association

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's Senate passed a bill Thursday that would ban libraries from spending public or private funds on services offered by the American Library Association, which a Republican member of the chamber called a “Marxist and socialist” group.

The measure, Senate Bill 390, passed by a vote of 33 to 20. Democrats opposed it, saying the ALA offered libraries invaluable services and had long defended free speech and artistic expression.

But one of the bill's authors, Republican Sen. Larry Walker III, said the group's agenda and politics were inconsistent with Georgia's conservative values.

“This is not an attack on libraries," he said. "It doesn’t ban any books.”

Right-wing lawmakers in other states have also moved to sever ties with the ALA, in part because of its defense of disputed books, many of which have LGBTQ+ and racial themes. A tweet by ALA President Emily Drabinski in 2022 in which she called herself a “Marxist lesbian” also has drawn criticism.

Georgia Sen. Randy Robertson, another Republican, said the state did not need “a Marxist and socialist organization infecting” its library system.

But state Sen. Elena Parent, a Democrat, said the bill was putting librarians “on the front lines of a culture war." Lawmakers, instead, should be focusing on improving the state's low reading scores, she said.

The bill now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.