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Eye On Boise

After fervent debate, House narrowly passes parental rights bill

After a fervent, hour-long debate, the House has voted 37-31 in favor of HB 113, Rep. Janet Trujillo’s parental rights bill. Backers included Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, who told a story about objecting to his teenage daughter’s school health class mentioning masturbation, and being allowed to have her leave the class when those subjects were covered. Opponents included House Education Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, who said the measure is fraught with “unintended consequences,” and could allow a parent to demand that their child be taught Sharia law in public school, or taught only in Spanish. “Every parent could then say they want their own specific textbook for their own child,” he said. “I don’t know what the cost of that is going to be.”

Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, said, “I served on a school board for 16 years, and at the school I was at, it was a private school, but education was a partnership with the parents. … I believe that’s what this bill is trying to address. The parents have a fundamental right to make decisions as regards to their education.”

Trujillo, R-Idaho Falls, said legal concerns about the bill raised by the Idaho Supreme Court should be discounted because of separation of powers. “Our families are important, our parents are important, and we would like fundamental rights when it comes to decisions of the courts,” she said. Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, said, “Let’s not forget who brought these kids into the world. It’s their parents. And let’s not also forget who’s paying taxes for their education. It’s their parents.”

Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, a retired pediatrician, said the bill “overturns a whole body of law that we have put around protecting children.” He called it “a very dangerous act for child welfare.” The bill now moves to the Senate side.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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