Arkansas Republican who wanted to suspend funding for libraries sued the state, confirmed by library board


Little Rock, Ark. (AP) - A former arkansas The lawmaker who proposed suspending funding to libraries that sued the state over content restrictions was confirmed by the Senate Monday to a position on the State Library Board.

The majority-Republican Senate voted 22-10 to confirm former Senator Jason Rapert's appointment to the board, which administers state and federal funds for libraries across the state. Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders named Rapert to the panel last month.

During his time in the Legislature, Rapert sponsored several abortion restrictions and was the lead sponsor of a measure allowing a Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds. Rapert is also president of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, a group that has advocated for restrictions on abortion and restrictions on transgender youth.

Rapert's appointment puts an outspoken conservative on the panel at a time when libraries are facing increasing challenges from Republican lawmakers to limit access to materials that include sex or LGBTQ+ topics.

Democratic Senator Clark Tucker said after the vote, "Appointing Jason Rapert to the State Library Board is like lighting a fire for libraries at the center of the culture war in Arkansas." "I just don't understand it."

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Earlier this year a federal judge blocked The state will be allowed to enact a new law Criminal charges against librarians and booksellers For providing "harmful" material to minors. A coalition that includes the Central Arkansas Library System is challenging the law.

Rapert has said he would like the board to consider suspending funding to any library that sues the state.

“It's a little difficult when you have one of those libraries or several libraries that is suing the state of Arkansas and trying to overturn a law that was duly passed by the state legislature and by the governor of the state of Arkansas. Was signed,” Rapert said.

Sanders' office said the governor is pleased with Rapert's confirmation.

Sanders spokeswoman Alexa Henning said, "Part of the board's stated responsibilities is to provide effective leadership to improve public libraries, which the governor believes his appointment will do to protect the safety and education of children." , not to educate them."

Rapert's appointment was confirmed without debate in the House, with all six Senate Democrats and four Republicans opposing him.

Republican Senator Jane English, who voted against him, said after the vote, "He's a little too radical for me, he has a lot of things to say."

The 35-member Senate voted separately on Rapert's sole appointment after approving dozens of other appointments to state boards and commissions. They include Shari Bales, whom Sanders has named second on the board.

Rapert's appointment to the Board expires on October 18, 2029.

Copyright 2023 The associated Press, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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