SB236/HB277 – Sponsored by Senator Cam Ward and Representative Pebblin Warren, proposes to require church nurseries and religious childcare providers (daycares) to be licensed by the state Department of Human Resources as are all other such providers. Church daycares and nurseries have always been exempt from licensure, even though their workers must pass background checks. The First Amendment should send a bold statement to state legislators about the proper role of state and federal government. Their role IS NOT to regulate churches or their ministries. This House bill passed unanimously by voice vote in the Child and Senior Advocacy Committee. Eagle Forum of Alabama strongly opposes SB236/HB277. This bill will allow the state to regulate Vacation Bible School, for example. It removes important religious liberty protections that currently protect Alabamians. This bill is about much more than simply licensing church daycares and nurseries, it is also about money. Foundation grant money has been awarded here in Alabama to push for all Alabama daycares to be licensed. The Alabama DHR was awarded $1.7 million to improve the quality of daycare in the state. Their only answer to that is to license daycares in church which are now exempt, although such centers are statistically safer for children by far than licensed centers. Those involved in negotiating for changes to the bill have offered 5 changes that would deal with the issues brought up by proponents for all child care facilities but these were totally dismissed, giving credence to the fact that this is not about protecting children, but about money and control.
Dollars are flowing from the federal government in support of licensed daycare facilities. The more that are licensed, the more money. With federal dollars come federal control. The bill says that in licensed church daycare facilities “no employee of the department (DHR) may infringe upon the ability of the center to teach or practice a religion.” However, these words would not control mandates from the federal government, such as those on the state Pre-K program that say, “no part of the day may be religious in nature.” If religious day care programs are required to be licensed, it is safe to assume that such mandates would follow.
Please contact your Representatives and Senators today as well as Senator Ward and Rep. Warren immediately to let them know that you strongly oppose this bill. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and office number is 334-242-7873. Representative Pebblin Warren’s email address is email@example.com . Her office number is 334-242-7734
Talking Points for SB236/HB277
- Background check requirements already in place
- Child abuse and neglect already outlawed in AL
- This bill is about regulation and money, it is not about child safety
HB24 Rep. Rich Wingo/SB145 Sen. Bill Hightower
HB95 Rep. Arnold Mooney/SB185 Sen. Paul Sanford
HB98 Rep. Matt Fridy
Contact your State Senator and State Representative now. Tell them you support the Assisted Suicide Ban Act HB96 (Rep. Mack Butler) and its companion bill SB198 (Sen. Phil Williams). House Information: (334) 242-7600 – Senate Information: (334) 242-7800, to voice your concerns with your legislators NOW!
Ask them to pass this legislation to insure that Alabama protects life until natural death. Alabama must not join the five states plus the District of Columbia who have already legalized assisted suicide and the other 21 states that are currently considering legislation to legalize “assisted suicide” which redefines the concept of medical good as never before. Our state has long supported its commitment to protect and preserve all human life at every stage. As this legislation states, the state has an interest in protecting vulnerable groups, such as the impoverished, the elderly, and disabled persons from abuse, neglect, and mistakes. The state also has an interest in protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession.
Assisted suicide laws clearly violate fundamental medical ethics. Without protections from assisted suicide in Alabama, the elderly, individuals with special needs, and the mentally ill will become targeted for assisted suicide as they have in other states. Alabama is one of the few states that currently has no statute directly addressing assisted suicide. The U. S. Supreme Court has upheld state bans on assisted suicide, and it is time for the Alabama Legislature to take action by passing the Assisted Suicide Ban Act.
In states that have legalized physician assisted suicide (PAS) there are few protections for those with mental health problems. Even in Oregon and California, where the law calls for counseling where the physician thinks the patient may have psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression, less than 4% of those who received a prescription were referred to counseling. Inadequate pain control was identified as a concern in only 1/4 to1/3 of the cases. If the reason for the decision is not physical, it is safe to assume that more patients should have received professional counseling other than from their physician. With such laws, there is nobody to hold the physician accountable. The laws allow too much latitude for physicians to rely on their own opinions in their practices. PHYSICIANS NEED TO HELP SUCH DISTURBED PATIENTS, NOT KILL THEM.
In a recent U. S. Senate hearing, Dr. G. Kevin Donovan, professor of pediatrics and director of clinical bioethics at Georgetown University, stated: “In medicine we know that what is permissible becomes habitual, and what is habitual becomes standard care, and what is [the] standard of care becomes obligatory.” We must protect life at all stages and remember the oath doctors take to “first do no harm.”
By Brandon Moseley
The legislature has returned for another session and some GOP legislators are once again pushing a longitudinal data collection scheme. Once again the primary opponents of this grand scheme are fellow Republicans. On Thursday, February 23 Alabama Eagle Forum led a conservative rally in opposition to the longitudinal data bills, House Bill 97 and Senate Bill 153.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) read a statement from his wife, state school board member Jackie Zeigler (R) vowing to oppose the data collection.
A statement was read from Representative Barry Moore (R from Enterprise). Moore said that only communist countries think they can direct children into career paths from early childhood. Moore questioned education rankings where countries that have invented nothing and innovated nothing are ranked higher than the U.S.
Rep. Arnold Mooney (R from Indian Springs) said that liberty loving people must be most on guard when the government acts with good intentions.
Rep. Ed Henry (R from Hartselle) said, “Does government need all of this information to better serve the public?”
Henry said that when he was campaigning, “Nobody ever said I wished the government would collect more data on me.” Henry said, “There really are not evil people down here we are just differing on which side we need to be on this.” Henry warned that we will end up losing our nation as we know it.” This would put us on a dangerous path and I don’t have any desire to be part of it.”
Senator Rusty Glover (R from Mobile) said, “We didn’t come to Montgomery to grow the size of government and this is growing the size of government. Sen. Glover said, “I have received dozens and dozens of phone calls from constituents asking,” for this to be stopped. I have not had the first parent or student asking that this be done.”
Glover has recently announced his 2018 candidacy for Lieutenant Governor. Current Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey is term limited from running again.
State School Board member Stephanie Bell (R) warned of a potential for government tyranny with this. At this point the best place for HB97 and SB153 is the trash can. Bell said that the federal government has demonstrated in the last year how vulnerable their data bases are to hacking. They can not secure the data. “This is about growing bureaucracy.” This will become one of the biggest budget items in state government in future.
Joe Godfrey ALCAP quoted GK Chesterton: “It is only in believing in God that we can ever criticize government, because without God they will worship government as God.” Godfrey warned of the dangers of giving the state of Alabama that much power. We need to encourage our legislators to stand strong in opposition to this.
Rep. Allen Farley (R from McCalla) said, “I am a Christian conservative member of the Republican Party in that order.” Farley said, “The poor schools are in the poor communities. Most of the prison population comes from the poor communities.” “As a Republican we believe in smaller government but a big and great God. Farley warned about the danger of data collection.
State School Board member Betty Peters (R) said, “I have no faith that no harm will be done.” “We have new things coming at our children every day that invade our children’s privacy.” “We must assure that no harm is done,” to the children of the state. This database is being run by a board with very few elected people on it. At the state Board of Education we asked questions. Then Governor ordered the board set up through an executive order with all of these appointed people, many of them appointed by him. I do not like appointed boards where everybody is appointed. I am elected if you don’t like what I am doing you can vote me out. Appointed people only answer to the person who appointed them.
Eagle Forum of Alabama Executive Director Deborah Love, who emceed the event, thanked all the legislators who attended and said, “We can count on their vote as a no vote and a yes vote for liberty.”
Rep. Mike Holmes (R from Wetumpka) said that the HIPAA data was also supposed to be secure. The dirty little secret is those HIPAA laws are not being enforced. There are 1300 complaints against the people running the database and the same people who maintain that data base are the people who is running this data base. Data mining of the database has become big business. if they can do that with the medical database they can do that with this.
What with manipulation of currency and theft of jobs, China is held in fairly low repute, especially down South. But some Alabama legislators seem enamored of at least one part of the Chinese system – the one that compiles enormous amounts of data on citizens, beginning when they’re toddlers and continuing through their careers, and swaps this data back and forth among various government agencies for government purposes. One might expect this kind of dangerous nonsense from, say, California, but . . . Alabama?
Parents and citizens are alarmed at two companion bills (SB 153 and HB 97) currently moving through the legislature to create a massive centralized warehouse of education and workforce data. This system would be called ANSWERS, or the Alabama Network of Statewide Workforce and Education-Related Statistics, which would be administered by a new Department of Labor bureaucracy called the Office of Education and Workforce Statistics (the “Office”).
The reach of ANSWERS would be sweeping. Operated by the Office, the system would combine education data (beginning in pre-K) and workforce data to provide information on the effectiveness of educational and workforce-training programs, and to assess “the availability of a skilled workforce to address current and future demands of business and industry.” (The bills don’t explain how the government can predict the “future demands of business and industry”; the Soviet Union tried it, but without much success.) The data could then be analyzed for whatever purposes the bureaucrats come up with, and used for “research” which, if history is any guide, will be ignored if it doesn’t support what the bureaucrats want to do.
How would this work? An Advisory Board would be established to identify the types of data that certain listed governmental entities would have to dump into the centralized warehouse. The statutory (and non-exclusive) list of such data sources includes all education agencies in the state, from pre-school through four-year universities – plus the Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Veterans’ Affairs. So these billions of data points on practically all Alabama citizens would be centralized into one repository to be sifted and shifted by central planners.
But surely the Advisory Board will be constructed so as to protect the interests of children and their parents. Not exactly. Of the 24 members, 22 must be either politicians, bureaucrats, or representatives of specific entities such as higher-education systems. One must represent private industry and know something about data-security (the bills’ only nod to security concerns), and the last shall be a lonely “representative of the public” (not necessarily a parent). The fix, ladies and gentlemen, is in.
The privacy concerns with ANSWERS are staggering. For one thing, although certain proponents have suggested the data would all be de-identified, the bills clearly contemplate the presence of personally identifiable data (by requiring “security clearance . . . for individuals with access to personally identifiable data”). Indeed, the bills specify that the Office would be considered an “authorized representative” under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and the only point of such a designation is to be entitled to receive students’ personally identifiable without parental consent or even notification.
Even if all data were to be de-identified, data can be frequently re-identified – especially when there are hundreds of data points on each individual to enable data-matching. And the bills even specify that the Office is to “link educational, workforce, and workforce training data from multiple sources through quality matching.” In such a vast repository, anonymization will be difficult if not impossible.
No more comforting is the bills’ requirement that the system comply with FERPA and other unspecified privacy laws. Five years ago the Obama administration gutted FERPA by regulation, thus enabling almost unlimited disclosure of personally identifiable student data as long as certain terms are used to justify the disclosure. Do the bills’ sponsors not know this? If not, what are they doing writing legislation that relies on FERPA “protections”?
The bills require no particular system of data-security, leaving that up to the Office. But the Office will have an unenviable task, given that this wealth of extremely sensitive information (including student education data, Social Security numbers from the Labor Department, family income information from student-loan programs, and on and on) will be conveniently assembled into one neat package and therefore made enormously attractive to hackers. One might as well assemble all the crown jewels of Europe into one room and hope jewel thieves don’t notice.
If enacted, ANSWERS would be among the most intrusive longitudinal data systems in the country – only 16 states and D.C. have such an Orwellian system. But most Alabama parents understand that the government has no right to collect highly personal data on their children, or on adults for that matter, and give it to other agencies to track their journey through the workforce and through life. It is none of the government’s business. One would have expected Alabama officials to understand this as well.
An equally fundamental, and troubling, aspect of this contemplated data repository is its adoption of the statist “socialization,” workforce-development philosophy of education. Traditional education in America has been designed to develop each individual to the full extent of his talents, to expose him to the best of human thought; statist education is designed to train him to be a cog in the economic machine. Only if the State adopts the latter philosophy does it need a data repository to track citizens and see how the training is working out.
Fortunately, Alabama State Superintendent Michael Sentance has a strong history in a true educational system rather than a workforce-training system. His experience as Secretary of Education in Massachusetts back when that state educated children better than any other state in the nation should prepare him to recognize the dangers of the ANSWERS network.
In public statements so far, Sentance has focused on the critical problems with data security. The parents of Alabama students are counting on him to go further – to reel in the dangerous inclination of the all-powerful State to collect data on free-born citizens and use it to analyze them as though rats in a laboratory. If Sentance comes out against ANSWERS, that ill-advised scheme will probably go down. Alabama is not China. Supt. Sentance can ensure that it doesn’t become so.
Eunie Smith is President of Eagle Forum of Alabama
By Deborah Love, executive director of Eagle Forum of Alabama, she also was appointed to and served on the Alabama ESSA Implementation Committee on Data Collection and Early Learning sub-committees
Justice Brandeis wrote, “the right to privacy is the right to be left alone.” Privacy is an essential aspect of a free society. Yet Representative Terri Collins is once again pushing a state longitudinal database bill in the Alabama legislature. A state longitudinal database is a centrally controlled database which collects and stores personally identifiable information on students. This centrally controlled database will track students throughout their lives and continuously consolidate personal data between multiple state agencies. While the bill has been renamed “Answers” this year it provides few. Instead it will give broad powers to what will be a newly created agency and advisory board with no accountability.
Though the Alabama Department of Labor has promised the bill does not allow the collection of private and personal student information, the bill itself contradicts that claim. Its collection and retention is clearly anticipated in the bill. The bill describes “security clearance requirements for individuals with access to personally identifiable information.” The bill goes further to describe who has direct access to this information. “Direct access to personally identifying information in the system shall be restricted to staff and authorized representatives of the office.”
Personally identifiable information could be a home address of a student or where they work. This means a government employee not involved with a child’s education on a local level will have access to a student’s geographic location on a daily basis. Data in the system will only go through a deidentification process if released to the public or researchers. This does not restrict the collection and retention of personally identifiable information within the system or among state agencies.
Information is personally identifiable because anyone can use this information and then identify the student by name. Personally identifiable information can be anything that identifies you as you. Aggregate data points combined can also become personally identifiable when combined in one central lo-cation. HB97 and its companion bill SB153 will combine information from ten state agencies in a central location and can potentially combine information from “any additional public agency or entity”.
The bill does not provide new state protection for student privacy; instead, the bill only punishes an actor merely for improperly sharing student data without the permission of the agency. The agency though will be collecting personally identifiable information on individual students. Government tracking of individual citizens including students is a violation of fundamental privacy rights. Senator Del Marsh and the Department of Labor claim that the information will be kept confidential. But this is a false promise as the bill only contains vague promises to create plans at a later date or internal policies with no outside accountability. HB97/SB153 acknowledges that breaches will occur as it instructs the advisory board to develop “plans for responding to security breaches.”
The philosophical foundation of HB97/ SB153 is that central planning works, that governments have the right to monitor the movements of individuals in addition to collecting unlimited information on private citizens throughout the course of their lives. These premises violate essential liberties that must be respected in a free society and violate the proper role of government in society. Human history has provided many examples of what types of government abuses result when this type of power is given to the government. If the government has the right to track and collect personal information through-out the course of an individual’s life, then there is no truly free citizen.
Only current state and Federal law are mentioned in HB97/SB153 as privacy protections; but the comprehensive Student and Parent Privacy Protection Bill was not passed in the last Alabama legislative session. In addition, the Alabama bills cite dependence on the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which was passed in 1974. However, the Federal Department of Education gutted FERPA in December of 2011. On January 3, 2012, changes went into effect that allowed for the collection of student data by third parties. FERPA is outdated to address current privacy threats with the changes from emerging technology. Thus there is no state or federal law which protects the massive amount of student data that will be collected in this longitudinal data system.
At the first senate meeting on the bill this session the sponsor claimed the purpose of the bill was “to meet the demands of industry.” This vague purpose is focused subsidization of certain business interests and increasing power of unelected state agency heads. This alliance is for the mutual benefit of these special interests, but not for students. Parents and students should know that this bill allows and requires a centrally controlled data collection system to track students through the course of their lives and to collect unlimited personal information on students and potentially other citizens.
Alabamians, parents and eligible students must ask themselves how important their privacy is because it is about to be handed over to a state agency and an advisory board controlled by special interests.
Students, parents and private citizens were not allowed to speak at House and Senate meetings on the bills this week even though public hearings were requested. Yet multiple government agencies were allowed to speak in support of the bills.
Apparently for supporters of HB97/SB153 your child’s privacy means less than the misguided demands of big industry and bureaucrats.
Rep. Terri Collins has introduced HB97, the State Longitudinal Database bill (companion bill is SB153). The Alabama Department of Labor has promised the bill does not allow for collection of private and personal student information, but the bill itself contradicts the department. It describes, “security clearance requirements for individuals with access to personally identifiable information.”
The bill’s sponsor describes its purpose “is to meet the demands of industry”. It is not the duty of government to train workers for industry or to track students into state selected jobs. Regardless, there is no reason important enough to turn over any of your child’s personal, non-academic information. The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, ” The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
There are no real protections outlined in the bill. Only current state and Federal law are mentioned. Dependence is placed upon FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act), which is a federal act that was gutted in December 2011. With FERPA, data collection is now available to third parties. The comprehensive Student and Parent Privacy Protection bill could have provided significant protection, but Rep. Collins refused even to bring it before her Education Policy Committee for discussion last year.
HB97 acknowledges that breaches will occur as it instructs the advisory board to develop “plans for responding to security breaches.”
Protecting student privacy rights should come first when making public policy and legislative decisions. Please encourage your legislators to vote NO on HB97 and its companion Senate Bill, SB 153.
You may reach your House member by calling 334-242-7600 and asking for their office. The Senate number is 334-242-7800.
To find your legislators, visit http://alabamaeagle.org/find-your-legislators
J. Pepper Bryars, who grew up in Mobile and lives in Huntsville, is a conservative columnist for AL.com. Contact him at www.jpepperbryars.com.
We often hear that the rich should be made to pay their “fair share,” but the top 20% of earners are already paying about 84% of our nation’s income taxes.
Some say that’s a reasonable apportionment from each according to their ability, but here’s a modest proposal for consideration: maybe it’s time for the poor to actually start paying their fair share in taxes.
Outrageous? No more than feeding our unwanted children to the rich. But still, how can we tax the poor without seeming like a monstrous mix of Ebenezer Scrooge and Montgomery Burns?
Our lawmakers in Alabama have finally found the secret answer: a lottery.
You may be skeptical that a lottery could deliver additional revenue on the backs of the poor, but other states have experimented with them for decades and have thoroughly perfected the trick.
Duke University found that the poorest third of households buy more than half of all lottery tickets, and a University of Buffalo survey showed that the lowest fifth on the socioeconomic scale had the “highest rate of lottery gambling (61%).”
Studies in Texas, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Minnesota also show that those with below-average incomes purchase a majority of scratch-off tickets. That’s partly because, as the Duke study found, poorer neighborhoods are saturated with get-rich-quick lottery advertisements for games with tempting names like “Win for Life, ” “Golden Ticket,” and “Holiday Cash.”
We get to hook their children, too. A Yale University study revealed that “receipts of scratch-off lottery tickets as gifts during childhood … was associated with risky/problematic gambling.” Teach them when they’re young, as the saying goes.
We never have to worry about the lottery being repealed, either. The poor don’t hire lobbyists to help avoid taxes, and when they vote it’s often for self-serving or incompetent politicians. For instance, those shouting the loudest for a lottery actually represent the poorest parts of Alabama.
If those reams of scientific studies aren’t convincing, take my personal word for it – the poor will pay.
I grew up poor, and not just relatively speaking. We fell below the federal poverty line for a family our size many times over the years, and I can recall how my father once blew the lion’s share of his paycheck gambling at the dog track in Mobile. It hurt. We weren’t the kind of family who could absorb a lost paycheck. Bills simply went unpaid … and our family simply went without.
Later on, a close family member’s husband blew three paychecks in a row at the casinos over in Mississippi. They were poor, too, and were eventually evicted from their rental house. Their family never recovered, and it eventually fell apart.
But who cares, right? Gambling is a victimless and voluntary vice, and we have no right to stop a grown man from wagering his family’s income on a chance to “Win for Life” or to get some “Holiday Cash.” Besides, it’s not our fault if children are caught up in the scheme, even if it’s sanctioned by the people and managed by the state.
Still, I remain worried that Alabamians won’t approve the lottery.
Think about it. If the poor knew that lotteries were actually wealth redistribution in reverse or that their children would likely grow up addicted to gambling, they wouldn’t vote for it … right?
If their elected representatives knew that a lottery would raise the taxes of their poorest constituents, they wouldn’t vote for it … right?
If the Democrats, who style themselves as defenders of the poor, learned that a lottery takes advantage of the most vulnerable among us, they wouldn’t vote for it … right?
And if the Republicans, who style themselves as the keepers of our Judeo-Christian values, knew that a lottery’s get-rich-quick advertising campaigns “exploit the poor because they are poor (Proverbs, 22:22),” they wouldn’t vote for it … right?
I’m not sure. All of this experience and evidence presents an overwhelming and convincing case that a lottery is a hidden tax on the poor.
Thankfully, nobody seems to know these things.
Nobody, that is, but you.
Legal experts are now warning legislators that the current lottery bill is a Double Trojan Horse. It would (1) give Indians the right to demand a compact from the Governor to set up full-fledged, Las Vegas style casinos in multiple locations around the state and (2) the bill’s loose definition of “lottery” would enable the gambling bosses we have battled for years to reopen their casinos with slot machines and other games activated by so-called “lottery tickets” purchased at casinos that have been shut down in recent years based on repeated rulings from the Alabama Supreme under our constitution’s current ban on “lotteries.”
As for the Indians, a lottery is “Class III” Gaming under federal guidelines. There is currently NO Class III allowed in Alabama. But federal law says that if ANY Class III gaming is permitted by state law, then the Indians have the right to a compact allowing them to operate ALL forms of class III gaming. Thus, legalizing a lottery will open wide Alabama’s doors to Las Vegas style casinos, gaming, replete with table games, slot machines, etc.
What would this ultimately mean for Alabama? First, of course, there is the immorality of funding our state by preying upon the poor and more vulnerable, when it should be the states responsibility to look out for those same people. Second, casino profits in the hands of a handful of gambling magnates would allow them to control Alabama politics. Do we really want gambling bosses to have the hundreds of millions of dollars in profits that will allow them to control the elections of our state for decades to come? Is a state run by the hand-picked candidates of gambling bosses the kind of state we want for our children and grandchildren?
I recently heard a lecture on an upcoming book entitled “The Wickedest City in the Country: Phenix City, Alabama”. It reminded me of that city’s 1954 horror story. Please, legislators, don’t make our citizens relive Phenix City statewide. Please reject the lottery and the resultant wholesale expansion of gambling in Alabama with its inevitable corrupting influence on all Alabama. To pay for necessary state expenditures, please use reliable, sound funding streams that do not rely on the state’s effectiveness in encouraging gambling addiction for their revenue.