Senate Democrats voted to add restrictions to obscene materials in school libraries, then voted to strip them out

In an apparent attempt to confuse and mislead the public, Senate Democrat Leadership used last night’s floor debate on the omnibus education finance bill to vote both ways on language that would restrict student access to obscene and pornographic materials in school libraries.

The controversial move turned a bipartisan vote into a party-line vote in the course of less than an hour.

An amendment offered by Sen. Eric Lucero to H.F. 2497 stated: “A school library within a school site must restrict all student access to material that is reasonably believed to be obscene or child pornography or material harmful to minors under federal or state law.” It is the same language in current Minnesota law that restricts internet access in schools. The final vote on the amendment was 60-6, with the only “no” votes being Sen. Scott Dibble, Sen. Omar Fateh, Sen. John Marty, Sen. Jen McEwen, Sen. Erin Murphy, and Sen. Sandra Pappas.

But then shortly after just voting “yes,” Sen. Mary Kunesh offered what’s known as a “delete everything” amendment to Sen. Lucero’s amendment. According to Sen. Kunesh herself, votes for her amendment would undo the bipartisan vote on restrictions that had just been adopted. On a party line vote, Sen. Kunesh’s amendment was adopted.

Why did Democrat senators who voted for adding restrictions to obscene and harmful materials in school libraries change their position? Were they extraordinarily confused by the protective language for children that they voted for? Or was there a more sinister strategy at play?

Voting both ways — one way to protect themselves from a “bad” vote and then voting to align with leadership changing their mind — is a seemingly manipulative move that constituents should call their legislators out on.