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.
Paul Weber, president and CEO of Family Policy Alliance, reflects on some things he didn’t see in the first presidential debate that have him concerned. And he gives us information on an event that might just help us decide how to vote in November.
Take part in a special live-stream forum on Tuesday, Oct. 4, from 7-8:30pm EDT entitled “An Honest Discussion About a Difficult Election: A Forum for Christians Wrestling with Why and How to Vote.”
Ben Carson’s My Faith Votes is sponsoring the event and speakers will include Bishop Harry Jackson, Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader of Iowa, and John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a law which dials back taxpayer funding to all abortion facilities in the state, including Planned Parenthood. That makes Florida the 12th state to do so.
HB 1411 moves funds going to Planned Parenthood to hundreds of low-cost, federally qualified community health clinics.
“This is a historic victory, and we are thrilled to have been an active part of this effort,” said John Stemberger with the Florida Family Policy Council. “The real heroes in this victory are Senator Kelli Stargel and Representative Colleen Burton, both of Lakeland. These women are to be commended for their courage and conviction, leading on this issue which voters have been concerned about for decades.”
The push to defund Planned Parenthood was highlighted by videos released by the Center for Medical Progress. It’s founder, David Daleiden, is now in federal court defending his right to uncover abuses in the abortion industry, specifically, Planned Parenthood.
Gov. Scott previously had been unwilling to take action – then the Legislature got involved.
“In spite of receiving tens of thousands of communications from Florida voters,” Stemberger said, “the governor refused to do so, mainly claiming that he could not take action due to federal law. Nonetheless, we are pleased that Gov. Scott did follow the Legislature’s lead and signed this important bill into law.”