States Take Up Parental Rights Legislation

The new legislative year is underway across the country, and in Florida and Colorado we’re championing promising bills to protect parental rights.

(For more about the Florida bills and the Florida legislature’s committee challenges, check out this week’s Parental Rights Podcast with special guest, State Coordinator Patti Sullivan.)

Colorado HB 20-1063

In Colorado, Rep. Tim Geitner has introduced the “Fundamental Family Rights in Colorado” bill, HB20-1063. As introduced, the bill would add a new section to Colorado law stating that “the liberty of a parent to exercise his or her parental rights is a fundamental right in the state of Colorado,” and that this right is to be protected by strict judicial scrutiny.

The bill further defines parental rights as “the right of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.”

In the face of so many assaults on parental rights across the country, this kind of protection for reasonable parental decision-making in Colorado will be a welcome change.

Rep. Geitner is also working with us and some of our bipartisan coalition allies to introduce a bill that would provide for due process before a name can be added to the state’s child abuse registry. That bill doesn’t have a number yet, but we fully support it (as we do the Fundamental Family Rights bill) and we’ll get you that number as soon as we can.

Florida HB 1059 / SB 1634

Meanwhile in Florida, Rep. Erin Grall and Sen. Kelli Stargel have introduced identical bills to create a “Parents’ Bill of Rights.” At twelve pages long, the bills would add a new Chapter to Florida law defining and protecting parental rights in detail.

“The Legislature finds that it is a fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their minor children,” the bill declares. “The Legislature further finds it is necessary to establish a consistent mechanism for parents to be notified of information relating to the health and well-being of their minor children.”

The bill then lists a number of specific parental rights and how they are to be protected, while also spelling out that parents’ rights include more than just those listed in this legislation.

This is not the first year parental rights legislation has been introduced in Florida. The Parents’ Bill of Rights last year made it through two committees in the House and one in the Senate before running out of time for a final vote.

This year, Grall’s HB 1059 and Stargel’s SB 1634 are “companion bills,” introduced concurrently to allow the measure to work its way through both houses at once. This is especially helpful in Florida, where a bill must pass three committees of each chamber in a limited amount of time.

While HB 1059 works its way through the House, SB 1634 will make its way through the Senate. If each one gets through its house of origin before the session ends, the bill will be ready for the governor to sign into law.

Coordinated War on Parental Rights Looms

Unfortunately, not all state legislatures are looking to protect parental rights this year. In next week’s email we will look at one state’s coordinated all-out war on parental rights, and what we are doing to stop it.

In the meantime, thank you for standing with us. It is only through the support of our individual partners that we are able to push for parental rights law in these positive states, or stop violations of those rights when “all-out war” breaks out. Consider giving today to fuel us to victory especially in Florida and Colorado this year (and to halt the many threats we will take on at the same time).

Then, keep watching these newsletters in the weeks ahead so you can respond as needed when action occurs in your legislature. Also, check out the podcast and share it with your family and friends to further spread the word on this vital issue.

Together we will win the war for our children by preserving our parental rights.