Across the nation, some state legislatures are starting to adjourn for the year. Others have reached cross-over day, where bills have to pass from one chamber to another or they’re dead for the year. Still other legislatures remain in full swing.
All this year, ordinary moms and dads like you, with your energy and passion, have been making your voices heard to our elected officials—and it’s exciting to see how it has paid off! While enacting laws (especially good laws!) can generally take years and multiple legislative sessions, we have seen some victories already this year.
Parental Rights Bills
First, numerous states have introduced bills to enshrine fundamental parental rights. While 14 states already have these laws on the books (WV, KS, MI, TX, UT, CO, AZ, NV, VA, OK, ID, WY, FL, and MT), numerous states are working toward joining them, or are taking steps to bolster existing laws protecting these rights. Many of these bills also include curriculum transparency provisions so that parents of children in public schools can know what their children are learning:
- Colorado: While Colorado already has codified as public policy that parental rights are fundamental (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-22-107(a)[III]), a new bill has been introduced to make it even more clear and strengthen this existing law. House Bill 22-1236, The Parent’s Bill Of Rights, will give teeth to current law by stating: “The state, any political subdivision of the state, or any other governmental entity or institution shall not infringe upon the fundamental right of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, and health care of the parent’s minor child without demonstrating that the compelling governmental interest, as applied to the minor child involved, is of the highest order, is narrowly tailored, and cannot be accomplished in a less restrictive manner.” H.B. 22-1236 will be heard in committee on Wednesday, March 23, and Will Estrada is currently scheduled to testify in favor of the bill.
- Florida: Last year, ParentalRights.org spearheaded the introduction and passage of one of the strongest parental rights bills in the nation. It was codified at Fla. Stat. § 1014.03 and has served as a model across the nation. This year, legislators introduced House Bill 1557, Parental Rights in Education, to provide additional protections to children in public schools. H.B. 1557 has passed the Florida legislature and is currently pending before Governor Ron DeSantis.
- Georgia: House Bill 1178, the Parents’ Bill of Rights, recently passed the House on a 98–68 vote and is now pending in the Senate.
- Hawaii: House Bill 2295, The Parental Bill of Rights, has been introduced and is pending in committee.
- Kansas: While Kansas protected parental rights as a fundamental right in 1996 (see Kan. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 38-141(2)(b) and Kan. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 60-5305(a)(1)), Senate Bill 496, The Parents’ Bill of Rights, would strengthen existing state law. The Senate Committee on Education has recommended that the bill be passed.
- Michigan: While Michigan has protected parental rights as a fundamental right since 1996 (Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.10), a new bill, House Bill 5703, would require text to be posted at school board meetings and in school district offices to remind elected officials of their duty to respect the rights of parents. H.B. 5703 has passed the Michigan House by a vote of 106–85 and is pending in the Senate Education Committee.
- Minnesota: House File 3444, The Parent’s Bill of Rights, and a companion bill in the Senate, Senate File 3064, have been introduced to protect parental rights as a fundamental right. Both bills are currently pending in committee.
- Missouri: House Bill 1858, the Parents’ Bill of Rights Act, has passed out of its first committee on a 15–6 vote, and is currently pending before a second committee.
- New Hampshire: House Bill 1431, The Parents’ Bill of Rights, passed the New Hampshire House on March 15, 2022, on a 181–157 vote and is now pending in the Senate.
- Pennsylvania: Senate Bill 996, The Parental Rights Protection Act, has been introduced and is pending in committee.
- Rhode Island: House Bill 7138, The Parents Bill of Rights Act, was introduced, but was held in committee for further study.
- South Dakota: House Bill 1246, to establish the fundamental right of a parent, was introduced in the House. Our president, Will Estrada, testified before the House Judiciary Committee, and the bill unanimously passed out of committee. It then passed the House on a 63–5 vote. However, despite such a strong showing in the House, the Senate Judiciary Committee unfortunately killed the bill for this session.
- Wisconsin: Assembly Bill 963, a parental rights bill, has passed both the Assembly (by a vote of 60–34) and Senate (by a vote of 19–12) and has been transmitted to Governor Tony Evers.
Other Positive Legislation
Second, ParentalRights.org works on legislation to protect innocent families from the trauma of unnecessary CPS investigations. In New Hampshire, House Bill 1612, which would replace anonymous reporting of child abuse and neglect with confidential reporting, passed the House on March 15 on a 175–161 vote and is pending in the Senate.
Third, ParentalRights.org works on legislation to clarify that reasonable parental decisions that help children gain reasonable independence should not be considered child neglect. We are working with numerous allied organizations in three states to advance these bills. In Colorado, House Bill 22-1090 has unanimously passed the Colorado legislature and is awaiting signature into law by Governor Jared Polis. In Nebraska, Legislative Bill 1000 already went through a legislative hearing in the Judiciary Committee and is pending a vote. And in South Carolina, Senate Bill 288 has been introduced and is pending in committee.
Halting Bad Legislation, Too
Fourth, ParentalRights.org works to oppose dangerous legislation. We are pleased to report that a dangerous grandparent visitation bill in West Virginia that would have stripped parental rights from the law has died in committee. While we recognize the incredible role that loving grandparents and great-grandparents play in their grandchildren’s lives, not every situation is ideal, and state law must respect the decisions of fit parents. And a dangerous curriculum transparency bill in Ohio that inexplicably requires private and homeschools to publish their curriculum has stalled and is going nowhere.
These victories are because moms, dads, grandparents, and other champions of parental rights across the nation have read our action alerts, picked up the phone, called your state legislators, or otherwise put in the time and effort to shape the laws of our nation. Together, we are hard at work in state legislatures across the nation to support these efforts, and the results have been incredible!