House Shoots Down Parental Rights Constitutional Amendment

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Paula Tracy photo

Members of the state House of Representatives met in Representatives Hall on Thursday.


CONCORD — The House killed a proposed constitutional amendment that would enshrine parental rights in the state constitution.

The House also took action on two other bills expanding parental rights Thursday.

The proposed constitutional addition, CACR 17, states parents have a fundamental right and responsibility to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their minor children.

The bill would also note the state and its subdivisions may not infringe on those rights without demonstrating a compelling governmental interest, and it should not apply to parents who may harm or end the life of their child.

The resolution’s prime sponsor Rep. Glenn Cordelli, R-Tuftonboro, said parental rights have long been supported by US Supreme Court decisions and his proposal reflects the due process rights in the 14th Amendment.

Cordelli said you only have to look at the majority report on the bill to kill it, to see why it is needed, noting the report contends some parents abuse their children and are otherwise bad parents, and will be emboldened by the amendment.

He said two years ago there was a bill that implied parents want to homeschool their children in order to hide abuse, and that 400 to 500 parents turned out this week to oppose a bill that would infringe on their rights.

“Parents around the state are watching,” Cordelli said. “They want to vote on this and they deserve to vote on this.”
But Rep. Peter Petrigno, D-Milford, said the proposed amendment is not needed because parental rights already exist and are well established in federal and state statutes and have been affirmed time and time again.

“You are not giving parents any more than they already have,” he said. “You do a grave disservice when you put forth legislation that makes them believe they do not have parental rights that they do have.”
Parents are best served when you are honest with them and work with them accordingly, Petrigno said.

And he said some parents may feel emboldened and not act in the best interest of their children.

The bill failed to reach the three-fifth majority to be sent to the Senate on the 180-183 vote.

The Senate would have also needed a three-fifth majority to place the proposal on the next general election ballot where it would need a two-thirds majority in the next general election to be placed in the constitution.

Library Records

The House killed a bill that would allow parents access to their child’s library records in schools and public libraries.

Currently library records are confidential even for minor children, and supporters of House Bill 1308 said a parent can be charged for a lost or overdue book their child took out but the library cannot tell the parent what the book is.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Arlene Quaratiello, R-Atkinson, said school libraries are particularly important because parents are usually not with their child at schools.

A child can read whatever he or she wants in a library as long as it is not checked out, Quaratiello said, and the bill does not make librarians act as police.

Rep. Heather Raymond, D-Raymond, said most libraries do not retain records for more than 30 to 90 days so it would be impossible to know what a person checked out over the last year.

The bill would require libraries to invest in data collection systems and add staff at taxpayer expense, she said.

Raymond also said there are also constitutional rights that need to be considered and there are concerns about the bill may subject children to abuse or neglect, who are in the middle of custody battles.

Raymond said if there is genuine concern on the part of the parents, they should provide parental oversight in libraries or have the child use the parents’ library card and not his or her own card and then parents would have unfettered access to the records.

House Bill 1308 was killed on a 184-170 vote.

Student Information

The House voted 192-173 to approve a bill requiring schools to inform parents whenever their student’s personally identifiable confidential information is shared with a third-party service provider or consultant.

Supporters said the bill would simply require schools to tell parents when, what, with whom and why the information was shared.

The requirement is not included in federal or state requirements protecting student confidential information.

Opponents of the bill said it would not provide any additional protections but will increase the administrative work for administrators and teachers and is too vague to know when the new requirement would be required.

House Bill 1695 was passed on a 192-173 vote and now goes to the Senate.

Garry Rayno may be reached at Garry is’s State House bureau chief and has worked as a reporter for 40 years.

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