Parental Rights State Legislation Update

Update on DC Minor Consent Act

If you aren’t yet familiar with the bill in DC that would allow 11-year-olds to give legal consent for vaccinations their parents have already opted them out of, you can read up on it here.

If you haven’t yet reached out to your US representative and senators and urged them to support the resolution in Congress to veto this dangerous DC act and keep it from coming to your state, you can do so through the VoterVoice system provided by our allies at Home School Legal Defense Association here.

And if you have reached out, but that was a week ago (or more), you can reach out again through the same tool here.

So far, our efforts have reached all 535 voting members of Congress. The resolution has gained nine cosponsors in the House and five in the Senate. But much more needs to be done, especially in securing support among Democrats.

Good Legislation

Iowa’s Parental Rights Bill

Representative Eddie Andrews in Iowa is introducing a bill to codify in statute the high standard of parental rights currently recognized by Iowa’s courts. The bill will not change the law for or against parents; it will not add to or remove any existing rights.

But by codifying the standard that the courts currently employ into the statutory law, this bill will protect those rights from changes in the judiciary. As it is now, since parental rights in Iowa are only protected by the courts, they can be changed on a whim when a governor appoints judges who think differently than the current standard.

Although the deadline to introduce legislation has passed, Rep. Andrews already has a prefiled placeholder bill specifically for parental rights legislation. This parental rights bill will fill that spot, and we will have a bill number once it does.

Senator Brad Zaun, who chairs the state senate’s judiciary committee, is also fully supportive of this bill. So when it passes the House and goes to the Senate, he will be ready to take it from there and see it to final victory.

Montana’s Confidential Reporting Bill

Another good bill is HB 356 in Montana, which would do away with anonymous reporting to child abuse hotlines. Under this bill, anyone calling in would have to give their name and address, but their information would still be kept confidential.

This means that people with a legitimate concern about their safety will still be protected: no one except the hotline and the department will know they called. But getting rid of purely anonymous reporting will cut down on the number of false and malicious reports, such as those calling in a false report to get a leg up in a custody dispute.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Lenz, was heard in the Human Services Committee on February 17.

Sadly, it faces opposition by the Child and Family Services Division of the state health department, the very people who should support this measure. It is likely to reduce their workload and free them up to find those children who really are in need of services and protection from abuse.

Those who spoke in favor of the bill? Not surprisingly, it was a group of parents. They argued, rightly, that the bill will cut down on false or retaliatory filings with the hotline.

Bad Legislation

Indiana’s H.B. 1531

In Indiana, meanwhile, a well-intentioned lawmaker has introduced a bill that poses a danger for children and for your parental rights. Rep. DeVon has amended his bill a couple of times already to try to get it right, but the version that passed the House on third reading on Monday is still problematic at best.

The bill, H.B. 1531, seeks to provide clarity for schools regarding how they are to respond if a child services worker comes to the school to interview a child for the sake of an abuse investigation.

Unfortunately, the bill would allow the department of child services to be the arbiter of whether or not it is necessary for the department to interview a child without the parent’s consent.

Now, there are times when it is perfectly reasonable to allow such an investigation. If the parent is the alleged abuser, and there is evidence that the child would be in danger if he had to return home or if the parent learned of the investigation, then it would make sense for the school to let the investigation take place on school grounds without the parent’s knowledge.

But this is already available under Indiana law. As in most states, the investigator could take that information to a judge and get a warrant permitting them to talk to the child without the parent’s consent.

This bill would cut out the judge and allow the investigator to decide for himself or herself whether it is necessary. That is the equivalent of leaving the fox to guard the proverbial hen house.

It is also a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection of due process, which is where the requirement for a warrant comes from.

We are working with volunteers to find a lawmaker who can help us stop this bill in the Senate, or at least remove the troubling provision.

Taking Action

This is not all of the legislation we are watching regarding parental rights this session, but these are the hot spots this week. Sometimes a call blitz or email storm in support of or against a particular bill may be necessary to protect your rights, but we are also often able to resolve these issues through direct contact with lawmakers.

Should a bill demand action in your state, we will let you know with an email alert to that effect.

And you can help! If you see concerning legislation in your state, please let me know about it at

Finally, consider donating today to support the fight to protect families like yours and mine.

Thank you as always for standing with us to protect children and families by empowering parents through good state legislation.