‘Parental rights’ bill stalls in Senate Rules Committee

by | Feb 27, 2020

A controversial bill that conservatives are calling ‘common sense’ hit a roadblock on Wednesday, with an impasse in the Senate Rules Committee causing the measure to be postponed for a later date.

The measure (SB 1634), known as the “parental rights” bill, would protect parents from government usurpation of access to and oversight of their children. The bi-partisan proposal would prevent the government from interfering with religious child rearing, and would promote parent involvement in the public school system.

The divisive issue would also require schools to disclose important information to parents about their child if they ask.

The bill was introduced by Senator Kelli Stargel, who also sponsored a parental consent bill (SB 404) that will require abortion providers to obtain parental consent prior to performing an abortion on a minor child. That bill is expected to be signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, while her most recent bill now sits in political purgatory.

“What this bill is stating is the parent does have the right to know what’s in the files,” Stargel said. “What’s going on with the school education…what’s going on in the medical file.”

Stargel says that bill is a no-brainer that doesn’t increase or limit parental rights, but requires school rights to spell out what is now state law. Opponents, however, believe that the bill overreaches to the point where it could pose problems for students unsure about their sexuality or who have parents who are abusive.

Republican Senator Tom Lee, however, questioned the bill’s necessity during Wednesday’s hearing, finding himself in a standoff with Stargel over the content of the legislation.

“Is there nothing here that’s new?” Lee asked Stargel during the hearing. “Or is there something here that’s new?”

Stargel’s response failed to persuade Lee to vote for the proposal, leading the Senate panel to postpone the bill.

A companion bill (HB 1059), sponsored by Representative Erin Grall is moving smoothly in the House, with Republicans largely supporting the measure. Both bills have received praise from both sides of the political aisle, with Democratic Representatives Kim Daniels and James Bush III advocating for an increase of parental rights.

Following the meeting, legislators and supporters held a press conference on the fourth floor of the Capitol to discuss the importance of the bill and recognize those reaching across the aisle to get it across the finish line.

The Rules committee will meet again on Monday to determine the fate of the bill.

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