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HB 900 Implementation

HB 900 by Rep. Jared Patterson, the READER Act (Restricting Explicit and Adult Designated Educational Resources, was passed by the 88th Texas Legislature and signed into law by Governor Abbott. It’s effective date is September 1, 2023. There is a great deal of confusion and uncertainty about how this new law will be implemented. The following information and resources will be updated as TLA receives clarification and information.  HB 900 summary

DISCLAIMER: The information provided is intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. Information shared on this page and in any documents linked on this page should not be construed as or be relied upon as legal advice in any particular circumstance or factual situation. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments. An attorney should be contacted for advice on specific legal questions, issues and/or interpretation of the law.

Resources

Final mandatory collection development standards for school libraries

TSLAC FAQs for collection development standards

TSLAC collection development policy check  list for districts

HB 900 Lawsuit filed in Federal court by coalition of booksellers, authors, and publishers.

Judge Albright’s written order granting preliminary injunction 

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding preliminary injunction

HB 900 enrolled (final) version

HB 900 FAQs

Submit your questions

 

HB 900 Lawsuit – Latest Action

January 17, 2024: The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in the HB 900 lawsuit. The decision prohibits the Texas Education Agency from enforcing HB 900 requirements that book vendors rate library materials as sexually explicit or sexually relevant. However, the decision states that enforcement of the library standards requirements was not part of the district court’s preliminary injunction and so the standards remain in place. Given the court’s decision, it seems that  anything related to the ratings system in the standards is not enforceable, but other parts of the standards will stand.  TSLAC plans to share additional information in the near future.

November 29: Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing on HB 900.  Recording

October 12: Fifth Circuit Court announced that they will hear oral arguments on November 29. The state’s appeal brief is due on October 30; Amicus briefs supporting the state are due November 6; the plaintiffs’ brief is due November 13; amicus briefs supporting the plaintiffs are due November 17; and the state’s final reply brief is due on November 20.

October 5: Fifth Circuit Court issued a decision declining to lift the administrative stay on the preliminary injunction order and ordering the appeal to be ‘expedited to the next available oral argument panel.” It is unclear when the appeals court will hear oral argument or how long it will take to issue a ruling. In the meantime, the state can move forward with implementing HB 900.

September 25: As part of the state’s appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court, they asked  for a stay pending appeal, or in the alternative, an administrative stay. A three- judge panel of the Fifth Circuit issued a temporary stay as an administrative procedure in the HB 900 lawsuit. The plaintiffs are filing their brief in response to the state’s appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court next week. The court is expected to rule on the merits of the motion to stay the preliminary injunction in the coming weeks.

As a result, the state can now continue to implement the requirements of HB 900.

September 18: Judge Albright issued the written order granting the temporary injunction. State appealed the decision to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

August 31: Judge Albright announced that he was granting a temporary injunction to keep the state from enforcing any part of the law.

August 18: U.S. District Judge Alan D. Albright heard arguments on the state’s request to dismiss the lawsuit and on the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction to prohibit the state from enforcing the law.

July 25: The American Booksellers Association, Association of American Publishers, Authors Guild, comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and two independent bookstores, BookPeople (Austin) and Blue Willow Bookshop (Houston) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Western District Court stating that HB 900 violates the first and fourteenth amendments by regulating speech “with over broad and vague” terms that target protected speech. 

TSLAC Mandatory Collection Development Standards  

January 3, 2024: Collection development standards rules adopted. Final, adopted version

December 14: TSLAC adopted the proposed collection development standards. The rules become effective 20 days after being filed with the Texas Register. TSLAC will file quickly so the rules should be effective early January.

December 13: SBOE approved the proposed collection development standards.

October 27:  Proposed rules published in the Texas Register, public comment period closes November 26.

October 13: TSLAC special Commission meeting for sole purpose of approving collection development rules for posting in Texas Register for public comment.

August 31: The SBOE Committee on Instruction met and the mandatory collection development standards were on the agenda. The committee heard testimony but did not take action on the standards. TSLAC will make any corrections and modify proposed standards as needed to take into account SBOE feedback.

August 4: TSLAC Commissioners approved draft collection development standards as required by HB 900.  Those draft standards were shared with the State Board of Education (SBOE)

Once the 30-day public comment period is closed, TSLAC will review and respond to comments and consult with SBOE as needed. Then the commission will meet (most likely in December) to adopt the final rules to meet the January 1, 2024 deadline established by HB 900.

Key Dates in HB 900

June 13, 2023 Signed by Governor Abbott
September 1, 2023 Effective date
January 1, 2024 TSLAC mandatory collection development standards, approved by SBOE, final
April 1, 2024 Vendors provide initial list of materials they rated sexually explicit or sexually relevant to TEA
Materials rated sexually explicit must be removed from school libraries
September 1, 2024 Vendors provide updated list of materials they have rated to TEA
January 1, 2025 School districts review vendor rated sexually relevant material in their current collection and post a report on their website

Key Points

  • School districts and librarians operate under existing, approved procurement, collection development and reconsideration policies as 2023-2024 school year begins.
  • Vendors, not librarians or any other district staff, are responsible for rating library materials.
  • Ratings are only applied to material vendors determine meet the definitions of sexually relevant or sexually explicit
  • Material rated sexually explicit by vendors must be removed from the collection.
  • Parental consent for materials rated sexually relevant needed when vendors provide those ratings.
  • Reconsideration requests follow current, approved district policies.