Friends,

I wanted to share with you the press release we just sent out regarding HB 290, the “Right to Visit” bill that will be heard in committee this week.

We are honored to work with Rep. Ed Setzler in this fight that values every life and upholds the importance of the family.
Cole Muzio.png
Cole Muzio
President and Executive Director

 

For Immediate Release
February 8, 2021
Contact: Brittany EllisonGA FPA Logo.png

Family Policy Alliance of Georgia Backs Right to Visit Proposal
Hearing on HB 290 is set for Wednesday, February 10th

ATLANTA – Family Policy Alliance of Georgia announced its strong support for House Bill 290, the “Right to Visit Act.” This bill, authored by State Representative Ed Setzler, would require hospitals and nursing homes to allow patients to visit with family members for a minimum of two hours each day, even during public health emergencies.

“Access to loved ones while struggling and vulnerable is key to mental and physical well-being,” said Deputy Director Brittany Ellison. “No crisis should result in a person being denied the ability to visit family members in what could be their final hours of life, nor should anyone have to choose between vital healthcare and being with family.”

HB 290 has been assigned to the House Human Relations & Aging Committee and is scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday, February 10 at 2:00 PM. Testimony from both medical professionals and everyday Georgians relating real-life stories of people being separated from their families during times of profound need is expected to overwhelm the available meeting space.

“Requiring dying patients to say goodbye to sobbing family members through the 5-inch screen of an i-Phone is absolutely unacceptable,” said Rep. Setzler (R – Acworth). “In June 2020, the General Assembly provided unprecedented COVID-19 legal protections to all health care providers with the intent they would allow patients to visit their family members. Sadly, many providers accepted the legal protections, but continued to stonewall families from basic visitation, even if they could prove they were COVID-19 negative. We need to be crystal clear that the right to visit, subject to reasonable restrictions, is a basic human right that our non-profit hospitals and long-term care providers must find a way to accommodate.”

Family Policy Alliance of Georgia endorses HB 290 as it fights for a state where “families thrive” and “life is cherished.”

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Senate Bill 2176 would reimburse parents of students who previously received in-person instruction, but who now are receiving remote instruction by parents because of COVID. It would provide $1,500 in funds to the family for the first child, and $500 for each child thereafter and be entirely financed from federal COVID funding, not the state budget.

This bill is coming up before the Senate in the next few days and your voice to legislators is needed!

SB2176 is a bill long overdue. Parents have needed financial help for instructing their children during COVID for a long time and this bill seeks to remedy that situation. We need your help encouraging your Senator to vote “Yes” on Senate Bill 2176.

Please send a message asap, urging your Senator to support this bill. The system will automatically send your request to your own Senator, based on your address.

Now is the time to speak up to support families here in North Dakota. They have borne these COVID costs long enough and need to have some relief!

Sincerely,

Mark Jorritsma
President and Executive Director

Fellow North Dakotans,

COVID has been a trying experience for us all, but perhaps in a unique way for parents of K-12 students. Parents have had to instantly become teachers at home, taking an enormous amount of time to help their children study, as well as buying computers and supplies, upgrading internet service, supplying lunches, arranging childcare, and sometimes providing special education and employing tutors. Nevertheless, the vast majority of federal COVID funding earmarked for education that North Dakota has received so far has gone to schools, not to parents incurring these costs. Senate Bill 2176 would fix this inequity, and your voice to legislators is needed!

Senate Bill 2176 has a number of features that would apply to any ND student who previously received in-person instruction, but who now is receiving remote instruction by parents because of COVID. It would provide $1,500 in funds to the family for the first child, and $500 for each child thereafter, with a cap of $2,500 per family. The bill would be targeted at average and below-average income families, would be retroactive (reimburse expenses already incurred), and would reimburse for child care – an expensive component for many families. SB2176 would tap remaining federal COVID funding as well as future federal COVID funding, so it would not create a drain on the state budget.

SB2176 is a bill long overdue. Parents have needed financial help for instructing their children during COVID for a long time and this bill seeks to remedy that situation. We need your help in encouraging the Senate Education Committee to render a “DO PASS” decision on this bill.

There are two ways to do this. First, you can send a message to all of the members of the Senate Education Committee, urging them to support North Dakota parents. Second, you can testify via written document or online during the hearing by signing up here. Now is the time to speak up to support families here in North Dakota!

Sincerely,

Mark Jorritsma
President and Executive Director

Every New Year brings a sense of hope and optimism. After a 2020 that brought a seeming onslaught of challenges, rounding into 2021, in many ways, will bring a renewed sense of opportunity and possibility.

For us at Family Policy Alliance of Georgia, it means the legislative session is set to begin – bringing with it a host of opportunities to strengthen our state.

And, while many would like for you to believe that Georgia’s best days are in the rear view, we have big plans for session, for godly legislation, and our state as a whole.

As we prepare to turn the page on 2020, we want to learn from the events of this last year. Across the country, we have seen what civil liberties are at stake when leftist leaders force shut downs and bestow fear in the name of “safety.”

We have been told all year that it is not safe or responsible for us to worship in church but are perfectly fine to gather in large groups in protests and riots. In many states, the pandemic has been overtly used as a vehicle with which to assault faith and undermine our most basic rights.

Thankfully, Governor Kemp and the leadership here in Georgia have largely refused mandates and done more to preserve freedom with our COVID response than perhaps any other state.

Other states have not been so fortunate.

We at Family Policy Alliance of Georgia® know the importance of congregated, corporate worship and how vital church community is. We are granted the freedom of religion by the Constitution and hope to protect that right this upcoming session.

One of our legislative goals is to pass legislation that will limit the ability of a government to infringe on the right to worship in churches in the case of a state emergency declaration.

The situation of our state – or the politics at any given time – should not determine the importance of our faith and neither should a mayor, governor, or president. While our religious freedom has been protected in recent years, we must be prepared for the day when a government might abuse its power.

There has not been a time in my life where I have needed to be surrounded by a body of believers more than now and I know some of you are feeling that too. Liberals would love to tell us that our faith isn’t essential and churches are dangerous, but we will fight back on those lies and ensure Georgia is protected from those policies in the future.

As Cole mentioned in last week’s email, I’m brand new to the team. I am excited about my first session with FPA of Georgia and look forward to moving us in a direction where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished.

Over the course of this session, we will be working on dozens of bills to achieve that shared purpose.

Thank you for being a part of our family here at FPA of Georgia, and, as I get started, I’m grateful that you’ve chosen to welcome me to the fight!

For Our Faith,

Brittany Ellison
Deputy Director

People of faith were given something extra special to be thankful for late Thanksgiving Eve.

With Justice Barrett casting the deciding vote, the Supreme Court issued a decision stopping New York Governor Andrew Cuomo from enforcing strict 10-person or 25-person limitations for attending religious services.

Noting that the New York regulations single out houses of worship for harsher punishment, the Court gave an equally harsh rebuke to the state and Governor Cuomo:

But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten. The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”

In other words, the Court reminded New York that the Constitution still matters.

As you celebrate this Thanksgiving, we know that as believers, we have much to be thankful for—even during a difficult year. Please join us in adding President Trump’s nomination and the Senate’s confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to our prayers of thanksgiving this year—as well as this strong decision from the Court reminding politicians that religious freedom is not “optional” under the Constitution.

With thanksgiving,

Autumn Leva
Vice President, Strategy

Friends,

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. But some public officials, including Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, have “canceled” traditional Thanksgiving celebrations.

“Simply put, it’s just too dangerous to gather with anyone outside our household right now,” said Gov. Inslee. “This year, our family will celebrate the holidays virtually.” Some Washingtonians have deemed Inslee the “Grinch” in social media memes and blog posts—a title he has undoubtedly earned for himself.

It’s not any better in the Windy City, where Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently told Chicagoans to “stop having guests over—including family members you don’t live with” and to “cancel traditional Thanksgiving plans.”

Why is it so important that we celebrate Thanksgiving? And why are the actions of Inslee and Lightfoot so lamentable?

The first Thanksgiving festival took place when Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony invited ninety Native Americans to join the Pilgrims for a three-day harvest celebration in 1621. Those faithful Christians had experienced considerable trials, including the loss of half of their company from sickness and starvation, but they were determined to praise God, trust in His providence, and impact the world for His gospel.

Thanksgiving celebrations quickly spread to other American colonies, becoming a fixture of early American life. The Continental Congress declared several “days of solemn thanksgiving and praise” during the American War for Independence, and state governors issued Thanksgiving proclamations encouraging public prayer, special worship services in churches, and civic events at town squares.

When the first US Congress met in 1789, founding father Elias Boudinot of New Jersey recommended that they direct the president to declare a day of national thanksgiving and provide “an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them.”

President Washington heeded their advice and issued the first federal Thanksgiving proclamation for November 1789. He encouraged Americans to earnestly seek God in prayer, confessing their sins and thanking Him for His bountiful blessings, including the inalienable rights He had given them and the constitutional system of government that protects those rights.

Americans continue these traditions even today. We recognize Thanksgiving as a day to worship and give thanks to God for the innumerable ways He has blessed us. Many churches continue to host special Thanksgiving worship services. And no one ever forgets the Thanksgiving turkey when families gather around the table to feast and reflect upon the goodness of our Lord!

Don’t let the Grinches take away this precious opportunity to gather at church and celebrate at home with family and loved ones. God is worthy of our praise and gratitude. Ain’t nothin’ changin’ that.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family,

Blaine Conzatti
Director of Advocacy

 

P.S. I’ve included President Washington’s 1789 Prayer Proclamation below for those who want to read it:

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Pastors have the emotionally draining and time-consuming responsibility to shepherd their flock, disciple believers into spiritually maturity, and administrate the business affairs of their local congregation. The weight of ministry only intensified during the past six months due to the coronavirus, as disagreements over masks, financial decisions regarding paycheck protection and staffing, and the quick transition to offer a worship experience through an online platform became the top priority.

Their schedule is stretched as family needs must be addressed, secular vocational jobs must be worked, and numerous meetings must be attended. Yet, their moral voice and influence is desperately needed to reverse the negative trends of societal decline that impacts their congregation.

This is where Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey® steps in. We strive to help pastors navigate the urgent issues impacting the family structure and facilitate regular conversations between elected state legislators and clergy. I want to encourage you to forward this email to your pastor and let him know about three ways we can serve the church you attend.

  1. Statewide Leadership Video Calls
    Every month we intentionally build relationships and moderate healthy dialogue between pastors and state legislators. Despite the anti-family policies that continue to be introduced in Trenton, there are elected officials that are allies in our cause to see NJ be a state where God is honored, religious liberty flourishes, families thrive and life is cherished. These elected officials must take public positions on issues that many churches are hesitant to teach on. They face criticisms and challenges for promoting strong family policies. Therefore, it is imperative for them to feel and experience the support of pastors across our state. Our monthly video meetings are structured for pastors to pray for these state senators and assembly members, and to encourage them to remain committed to biblical values. In the past three months, Senator Mike Testa (R), Senator Anthony Bucco (R), and Assemblyman Bob Auth (R) have connected with pastors through these calls.
  2. Regional Pastor Briefings
    Each year we educate pastors on the most troubling issues that threaten the family structure in NJ. This September and October, pastors will learn the facts about the LGBT curriculum in schools, recreational marijuana, and our continued pro-life efforts. Locations for this year’s meetings include Toms River Rockaway, Mount Laurel, Egg Harbor Township, and Warren. Click here for more information.
  3. Church Ministry
    I regularly teach a Biblical message during worship services, bible conferences, and special events regarding the Christian’s Role in Public Policy. Drawing from the scared truth of scripture, we equip Christians to engage the government, and no matter the results, make sure that God is glorified in the process.

Finally, I urge you to do three things to help your pastor:

  1. Pray for them more.
  2. Criticize them less.
  3. Forward them this email.

Together, let’s make NJ better!

Blessings,

Shawn Hyland
Director of Advocacy

Right now, families across America are managing the wild uncertainties of the new school year and facing difficult choices regarding the schooling of their children. Many families will be “virtual learning” for an indefinite amount of time. Others have chosen to pull their children out of public school and homeschool instead, and some are fortunate enough to return to a “new normal” of in-person private or public school. And, of course, many families are returning to homeschooling as usual. As families make different choices for their children’s education, no family is untouched by the effects of COVID on education in our country.

Millions of American parents have been compelled to decrease or stop working altogether to educate their children.  We can relate.  We both work outside the home, as do our husbands.  We are grateful to have our careers but very familiar with the incredible challenge of educating children from home while working and parenting fulltime.  It’s a lot to juggle, but we are the fortunate ones.  Millions of American parents don’t have the option of flexing time at work or decreasing the amount of time they spend working.  If they decrease their hours at work, their bills won’t be paid.  It’s not an overstatement to say that many, many American families are faced with whether to provide food and shelter or education for their children. That is a choice no family should be faced with.

Some say “virtual learning” or “online school” is not homeschool.  We agree – it’s not the same.  In virtual school, the school provides the lesson plans and assigns work to students.  However, the parents teach their young children how to use a mouse, open Google classroom, mute themselves, type into chat boxes, etc. –not to mention reading instructions to their children, helping them write and type assignments and ensure they are completed. In many cases, parents also absorb the financial costs of laptops, tablets, webcams, and high-speed internet service to participate in “virtual learning.”

Public schools receive thousands of dollars in state and federal funds per student enrolled in their school. Currently, public schools are receiving the same, full amount of per-student funding regardless of whether they are delivering in-class learning or “virtual learning” to students.  Many districts are actually receiving more funding than normal due to federal COVID relief.  So while parents are forced to work less or not work at all in order to home-educate their children, the public school system receives complete funding for their children’s education while the parents receive none.

This reality is not only unfair, but illogical and wrong.  Now more than ever, taxpayer dollars for education must follow the child.

You might be familiar with the phrase “money follows the child” when you hear people talk about “school choice.” Traditional school choice allows states to give money directly to parents for the education of their child. Most commonly, these programs are called Education Savings Accounts or ESAs. These savings accounts provide families complete control over the taxpayer funds allocated to their child(ren) to purchase laptops, curriculum, private school tuition, tutoring and other supplemental materials.

Families need and deserve access to education savings accounts today!

Many families are desperate to  access funds now to educate their children. If the public school is educating your child, that’s great. They should get the money. But if they aren’t, it is fundamentally unfair the school is getting paid while the families are getting the bill.

State legislators need to hear from families today.  Please take a moment to contact your lawmakers and urge them to make education savings accounts available to families immediately. (To find your state representative and senator if you don’t know them, click here.)

Also, stay tuned! In a few short weeks, Family Policy Alliance® will be releasing a national education guide for equipping parents with all they need to know about school choice, what’s going on in the public education system and how to protect children, and to help parents engage with policymakers impacting their children’s education at all levels.

For families,

Stephanie Curry
Policy Manager


Amanda Banks
Statesmen Academy Director

By Vince Torres, President & Executive Director

The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to impact every area of our lives, and as we approach the fall, parents with school-aged children are shifting their attention to education. In New Mexico, schools were closed in early-March and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently announced that our public schools will not reopen for in-person learning until September at the earliest.

Even with the Governor’s announcement, tremendous uncertainly remains about whether schools will actually reopen this year and if another closing will quickly follow. Consequently, most New Mexico parents and families find themselves in the tough position of determining how to best continue their children’s education. While many parents will choose to utilize available online public education, a recent poll suggests that a record number of American families will homeschool their children this year. In either case, the new school year will commence much like the last school year concluded – with “home” as the classroom, and parents and guardians as the primarily responsible educators.

This reality begs the question – should New Mexico parents receive a partial refund of their children’s education dollars to support at-home learning?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New Mexico taxpayers spend almost $10,000 a year per student on public education. This amount does not include federal funding dollars.

With public schools buildings closed from March through at least September, and with many families in need of help to support educating their children at home, what if New Mexico parents received a reasonable tax refund to help purchase curriculum, computers, supplies, tutoring services, internet access, and other necessities?

Maintaining some level of continuity in our children’s education is of the utmost importance and we must provide parents, grandparents, and guardians with the means to support educational excellence in the home. In years past, our political leaders have stressed the importance of keeping “more money in the classroom.” And since “home” is the classroom for most New Mexico children right now, perhaps some of our tax dollars should come back home.

“Education funding should always be student-centered…rather than institutional.”
-Dr. Lindsey M. Burke, The Heritage Foundation

Governor Murphy announced this week that NJ will offer a remote learning option for families who prefer to keep their children safely at home due to the potential spread of the coronavirus in public school facilities. His decision was based on the number of educators and parents who have stated their intention to refuse in-person education. He expects schools to physically reopen but does acknowledge that if an increased outbreak were to occur in the fall, school districts will be ready to transfer to complete at-home remote learning once again. Some public schools have already submitted their plans to split students into two groups at the start of the school year – spending half the time receiving in-person learning and half the time at home using remote learning.

With an increased likelihood that children might be spending time at home again this school year, this becomes a prime opportunity to take control of your children’s education.

Public school is becoming less attractive to morally conservative families. The new state Learning Standards for Sex Ed are graphic, explicit and age inappropriate. Pornographic illustrations have crept into high school literature classes despite parental outrage. Transgender themed novels are required reading assignments in many 5th grade classrooms. Sadly, our state legislature has recently passed a “State Approved Textbook Database” bill out of the Senate Education Committee. This will establish authorized vendors that school districts will be required to purchase all textbooks from regardless of any objection from local school boards and parents. If this becomes another flawed state law, textbook vendors will only be able to do business in NJ if they promote the LGBTQ agenda within their publications.

Due to the coronavirus, virtual learning might be a requirement, but virtuous learning is a choice. I know many parents might be unsure how to start homeschooling or might be intimidated to teach their students at higher grade levels. Are you interested in learning more about possibly home schooling your students this year? Please take our survey to help us find out the best way of assisting you.

We believe parents know their children best and are in the best position to make decisions about their children’s education. Home school is not for every family. We support parents being involved in public schools and private schools. Each family is unique in their schedules, abilities, and financial restraints.

Serving you,

Shawn Hyland
Director of Advocacy