Library bill moving slowly along

It may be a short session, but there’s been no shortage of hoops for House Bill 2068 to jump through.
Sponsored by state Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, and co-sponsored by state Reps. Peter Abbarno, Sharon Wylie and 14 others, HB 2068 has crawled ever so slowly along through the legislative process for the last five weeks.
The bill had its first reading on Jan. 20 where it was referred to the House committee on Children, Youth and Families. A public hearing for the committee was on Jan. 31 then followed by an executive session vote on Feb. 2 before being referred to Appropriations. From there it was sent to the Rules committee for a reading. A substitute bill moved it on to a third reading.
The bill passed the House on Tuesday garnering 89 votes for and just seven votes against.
Next, HB 2068 headed to the Senate where it had its first reading Thursday before the Human Services, Reentry and Rehabilitation committee. On Friday, the committee had a public hearing on the bill and is schedule for an executive session vote Tuesday.
What’s in the bill that requires so much discussion, review, debate and negotiation? Creating a free library program for children age birth to 5.
Stonier’s bill is to create a statewide Imagination Library program in partnership with music legend Dolly Parton’s nonprofit organization. The bill would require the Department of Children, Youth, and Families to select a nonprofit in the state to create and operate the library program. The nonprofit will contract with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to provide age appropriate, high-quality free books each month to eligible children.
“This open’s the door for books to arrive at the homes of children regardless of their income,” Stonier told the committee Friday.
Stonier said there have already been efforts to create an imagination library in some parts of the state, like Lewis County, but wants to see it grow statewide.
“The one thing we have a lot of data on is, the more texts, the more books, the more literature kids have access to that they can touch and enjoy and have their seeds of imagination grow from in those early years, the more likely they are to be successful in life, to be good in school, and have better health care outcomes. The key to the power of the world is literacy,” Stonier said.
— Shari Phiel

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