Even after the surprising results of the 2016 election, the wheels of the federal government continue to grind slowly on family-friendly legislation. But at the state level, significant progress is being made of life, family and religious freedom.
Here’s a roundup of what’s happening in several states with Family Policy Alliance allied groups:
South Dakota – The Family Heritage Alliance worked hard to get a bill passed that protects faith-based adoption agencies from violating their core principles.
SB149 ensures that they are free to continue placing children and making decisions consistent with their deeply held beliefs. It also prevents the government from discriminating against those organizations on the basis of faith.
This week Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed the bill into law.
“This law is consistent with how the state of South Dakota has for decades partnered with private agencies to find homes for children,” said Dale Bartscher, executive director of the Family Heritage Alliance. “It doesn’t restrict anyone from participating in foster care or adoption, but it does preserve for faith-based agencies the freedom to be faithful to their sincerely held convictions while partnering with government agencies in supporting vulnerable children and families in crisis.”
Louisiana – The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted new science standards for schools for the first time in two decades.
Louisiana Family Forum was instrumental in implementing Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008 that empowers teachers and students to practice academic freedom when exploring controversial science subject matter like origins of the earth, human cloning and climate change.
Louisiana Middle School Teacher of the Year Joni Smith testified during the board meeting.
“I made a suggestion for the members of the board to consider attaching the verbiage of the Science Education Act of 2008 along with the new updated science standards,” she said. “A motion to do this was introduced and passed 7-2. Joy filled my soul and this 7th grade Science teacher was smiling from ear to ear.”
Kentucky – Kentucky a conservative-majority House for the first time in nearly a century. Along with a Republican Senate and governor, pro-family legislation is being passed at a record clip.
Already, they’ve passed laws banning abortions after 20 weeks; allowing women to see an ultrasound before making the decision to go through with an abortion; and to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.
In Kentucky schools, children will now be able to express religious viewpoints without fear of retribution, thanks to a law passed this session. The Legislature is also considering creating charter schools and a bill protecting students’ religious liberties and free speech rights.
Even with all this good legislation, The Family Foundation of Kentucky is still hoping for a student privacy act that would protect girls in public schools from having to share bathrooms, locker rooms and changing areas with boys. And, they’re hoping to pass conscience protections for Christian business owners.
Florida – Our own John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, has been appointed to the Constitution Revision Commission. The body is only convened every 20 years to look over the state Constitution and recommend changes that are then voted on by the public. This year, many conservative voices will be part of the Commission.
The Florida Legislature is also considering a Pain Capable Abortion ban, a bill that would help victims of sex trafficking and the Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act that would protect students and staff from discrimination based on religious viewpoints or expression.
South Dakota passed its Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to take a stand on this important life issue.
South Dakota passed its Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, becoming the 16th state in the nation to take a stand on this important life issue.
South Dakota joins 15 other states including Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Arizona in limiting abortions after 5 months. Family Heritage Alliance, one of CitizenLink’s nearly 40 state-based family policy councils worked hard to get the bill passed.
“We believe that all abortions deny a human his or her right to life,” said Dale Bartscher with Family Heritage Alliance. “The Legislature and Governor Daugaard’s enactment of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is clearly a step in the direction of advancing the culture of life in our state and our country.”
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard abandons a common sense approach to the issue at hand.
Colorado Springs, CO, March 2, 2016–South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed a bill that would have protected children from predators and provided accommodations for students who are not comfortable using the bathroom or locker room facilities that correspond with their biological sex. HB 1008 was passed by both the House and Senate and said that students should be required to use the bathroom and changing rooms that correspond to their sex at birth, a common sense approach to the issue at hand.
“We sincerely believe that the Governor missed an opportunity,” said Dale Bartscher, president of Family Heritage Alliance, “to get out in front of this issue and help accommodate both sides in a peaceful and respectful manner.”
CitizenLink and its alliance with nearly 40 state-based policy groups, including Family Heritage Alliance, worked to activate South Dakotans to contact the Governor and encourage him to sign the bill into law. Despite the disappointing outcome, we will continue to stand for families across the nation.
“No child should be forced to share a bathroom or locker room with someone of the opposite sex while at school,” said CitizenLink President and CEO Paul Weber. “We will continue to work, along with our state-based policy groups, to promote laws that protect the institution of the family and provide safety for our children.”
CitizenLink is a public policy partner of Focus on the Family. Our mission is to see a nation where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive and life is cherished.