Senate panel postpones controversial ‘parental rights’ legislation
Sen. Kelli Stargel's controversial parental rights for abortions bill will take effect Wednesday.

GOP red meat bill postponed amid intraparty questions.

The House is poised to pass it. But its future is less certain in the Senate.

Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel‘s “parental rights” bill (SB 1634) was postponed in its final committee, Rules, with questions from another Republican derailing the discussion.

Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto urged Sen. Tom Lee to get with the sponsor to resolve his repeated questions that the bill may not be necessary.

Rules meets again Monday, the last meeting of 2020.

The House version (CS/HB 1059), sponsored by Rep. Erin Grall, is on its second reading, a precursor to a floor vote soon.

Theoretically, the Senate could receive that bill and vote on it.

The bill’s gist: that state or other governments would not be allowed to limit a parent’s right to direct the moral and religious upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of his or her child.

The bill permits opt-outs for students on issues ranging from sex education to vaccination. As well, explicit consent for medical care and data collection for students in a school setting is included in the bill.

The bill gives parents rights to information even when their children are in school, positing that “important information relating to a minor child should not be withheld, either inadvertently or purposefully, from his or her parent, including information relating to the minor child’s health, well-being, and education, while the minor child is in the custody of the school district.”

Barring a “narrowly defined … state interest,” the legislation asserts parental prerogatives regarding how to educate the child (including home schooling), how to guide the child’s religious grounding, the right to see all school or governmental records of the child, and a consent requirement ahead of taking the child’s blood or DNA.

In committee, a substitute amendment from bill sponsor Stargel allowing parents to object to “instructional materials” was adopted.

Stargel and Grall teamed up on parental consent abortion legislation, and this bill is in that vein. The parental consent discussion was heated in that case.

But unlike the crosstalk in Wednesday’s committee, it wasn’t a deal-breaker.

Sen. Tom Lee said he sponsored a similar bill, but couldn’t figure out the point of Stargel’s bill.

“Is there nothing here that’s new,” Lee asked. “Or is there something here that’s new?”

Stargel and Grall, along with supportive House Democratic Reps. Kim Daniels and James Bush III, held a press conference ahead of the Senate floor session Wednesday afternoon to urge Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign the legislation should it become law.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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