|A Mad Dash to the End
The Indiana General Assembly is rushing to end the 2019 session today. For those who support family values the session was mostly good. We had several positive things happen, but to use a football analogy, there was a painful fumble on the goal line when a touchdown for families seemed eminent at the end of the fourth quarter, as the clock ran out.
We were fighting hard to protect Hoosier families from having their children given psychological exams in school without parental consent. This battle for parental rights started when we began to see various bills heavily pushing mental health screenings, exams, and outside psychological counseling through the schools.
One bill that we did stop would have created a massive mental health data-tracking base of all 900,000+ Hoosier students from birth through age 22. We raised concerns about data security and mislabeling a child for life. Even editorial cartoonist Gary Varvel mocked this in an outstanding cartoon depicting a child on a psychologist’s couch in school worried about being mislabeled for life.
The Indiana Senate did an excellent job with the leadership of Senators Jeff Raatz, and Dennis Kruse, the chair and former chair of the Education Committee. Together, they added the best parental rights language I had seen in 20 years into House Bill 1004. It would simply have made sure that parents are consulted and adequately involved in these sensitive non-academic issues. Nothing in their language prevented a teacher or guidance counselor from helping a child in a crisis or safety situation.
However, this language brought out into the open some anti-family and big government attitudes in its opponents. In the final step of passage, the House author and another legislator, both former school administrators, removed this language in what I perceived to be an underhanded, misleading manner. Many of our pro-family House members were actually led to believe that those actions were a positive step for families.
We had no control over what happened to HB 1004 behind closed doors on Monday and Tuesday. In addition to the bill being controlled by a big government House Republican, time was also running out.
This was a huge disappointment, but it did bring to light the intentions that many legislators, state agencies, and lobbyists have for schools becoming an agent of psychological and values transformation under the guise of mental health or school safety. Dozens more legislators now see the need for parental involvement in these efforts.
Social conservative leaders and legislators will come back to this important issue next year. Advance America and the Indiana Liberty Coalition were two of several groups that did an outstanding job educating many, and building a movement for this legislation.
At the bottom of this email is a good video from the Pioneer Institute explaining what we ran into this session in numerous bills, and why we wanted parents aware of and involved in these new mental health and values clarification efforts.
On the plus side, we had many legislative wins in the 2019 session. Although it wasn’t needed due to the longstanding ability of Hoosier judges to enhance a sentence for any victim of a hate crime based upon our 2003 bias crime statute and a 2005 state supreme court ruling, we did prevent the legislature from passing a California-style hate crime law harming free speech or religious liberty.
We also saw the passage of two major pro-life bills, one protecting the rights of conscience for nurses, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists regarding abortion. The other bill bans the gruesome second-trimester dismemberment abortion procedure.
We also finally passed a bill requiring Indiana high school students to pass the same basic history and civics test that all new US citizens must pass, affirming the importance of civics education for graduates.
There was also a good welfare bill, which we supported, making it easier for the state to coordinate charity needs with churches wanting to help in this arena.
We also successfully protected the religious freedom of private schools through the defeat of efforts to force Christian schools to hire, (or be unable to fire), people embracing homosexual or transsexual lifestyles that contradict with the religious teachings of the school.
In spite of a growing presence of gun control advocates at the state house in the last few years, (backed by some national left-wing billionaires) there were also multiple pro-2nd Amendment bills passed this session.
Your support of AFA of Indiana had some very positive results this year. Your phone calls and emails to legislators had a huge impact in the passage of many good bills and the blocking of many bad proposals.
As always, if you would like to donate to support the work we do all year long in defense of truth and the principles that support a strong society and a free people, you can see several options for a tax-deductible gift at this link: https://www.afain.net/donation/