State Efforts Moving Forward for 2021
It’s hard to see 2021 from here, what with another full month of hurricane season, elections looming in November, fires raging out west, and unrest continuing in cities across the nation.
Yet we are excited to be working with volunteers in 16 different states on securing lawmakers to introduce parental rights legislation in the coming 2021 session.
I am uniquely excited about Florida, where a full-fledged Parents’ Bill of Rights (PBR) will again be introduced. Rep. Erin Grall proposed the PBR in 2020, and it received strong bipartisan support. Minority Democrats stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their Republican colleagues in committee hearings that were positively encouraging to watch online.
Sadly, the bill failed to pass the Senate Judiciary Committee on the final day of hearings, held up by the leadership over petty politics.
But we are excited for 2021 because, while we expect that same bipartisan support to still be in place come January, the leadership that held us up will no longer be in the way. So I anticipate an exciting victory in Florida this coming year!
What’s more, a couple of other states may be considering similar legislation moving forward.
15 States to Eye Registry Reform?
Most of the state-level efforts for 2021 are currently more modest, however (as is fitting to their current political landscape). In 15 states, volunteers are contacting their senators and representatives about reforming the child abuse registry law to protect innocent families.
You will recall the story out of Oregon about how Doreen’s name was added to the abuse registry for not taking her toddler to the ER after a tumble down the stairs. The child had calmed right down and never acted hurt, but hours later, the child couldn’t seem to settle down at bedtime.
It turns out the baby was struggling to digest foods new to her diet. But before the baby passed gas and settled down, Doreen called a nurses hotline about her fall. The nurse called child welfare services when mom and baby failed to show at the ER. The baby immediately got a clean bill of health from a pediatrician, but the investigator added Doreen’s name to the registry anyway. (Her name has since been removed.)
Our model aims to stop injustices like this from happening again. And while we’d love to see this fixed at the federal level (amending the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act could immediately fix this in all 50 states), Congress has made that impossible.
Instead, states like Colorado, Missouri, and Pennsylvania will consider making this vital correction for themselves. Other states where volunteer efforts are under way include Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
What You Can Do
To start the process in your state, all you need to do is download our model language from the Parental Rights Foundation website here and forward it to your state lawmaker.
With elections in just a few weeks, odds are it’s not great timing to expect an immediate response from them, but you could send it now and promise to check back with them after the election in November.
Then, follow up and ask them to sponsor the legislation in the coming session. It’s a matter that will easily gain support from both sides of the aisle, allowing your lawmaker, from whichever political party, to take the lead on an issue that matters to parents.
I would also ask that you let me know you’re reaching out, so that I can coordinate your effort with those of other volunteers in your state to give us the best opportunity for success.
Working together, we can make 2021 a terrific year for preserving parental rights in your state!
So, please consider taking this opportunity to reach out to your lawmakers to bring change, and add your state to the list of 15 where this effort is already under way!
Thank you as always for standing with us to protect children by empowering parents, and by protecting their names from the stigma of an unjust listing on the child abuse registry.