COLUMBIA, SC — The S.C. Senate voted 32-6 on Tuesday to approve a bill that would give public libraries legal muscle to ask patrons to leave and stay away.
The bill would make it a misdemeanor to for someone to refuse to leave a library if asked by a library's manager or director, or to return to the library after being warned in writing to stay away.
The warning must include the law or library policy the patron is accused of violating, the duration the patron must stay away, and the procedure for appealing the warning to the library's board of trustees.
The warning also must be given to the patron in the presence of a law enforcement officer.
The bill must receive a third approval, which is expected, before heading to the House.
The bill's supporters said that although library staff are responsible for keeping those libraries safe, they are limited in their ability to keep patrons who are disruptive or make others feel unsafe from returning to their libraries -- public spaces open to anyone.
The Senate approved the bill without any debate.