Category: Alerts

Ask Your Legislators to Stop Trojan Horse SJR 87 (copy 05)

150Urgent:  Please contact your Senator and House member to stop SJR 87
RE: SJR 87 asking for term limits via Constitutional Convention

In recognition of the fact that an Article V Convention Of States is not a solution, but rather a Trojan Horse, both Maryland and Nevada rescinded all previous calls for a Con Con during the first week of April, 2017.

Many well-intentioned conservatives cling to a Convention of States referred to in Article V of our Constitution as a solution to problems our country faces.  However, numerous extremely radical, progressive and socialist organizations are also fighting for an Article V Convention with George Soros’ money and massive media outreach.  Constitutional scholars* (see below) and political experience confirm that a Constitutional Convention once convened would be a law unto itself.  Therefore, it could well put at risk some of our most cherished freedoms and even our entire Constitution.

• COS advocates cover the full spectrum of ideologies and include hundreds of organizations in the Move to Amend coalition like Peace groups (Watch out Second Amendment.), communist fronts, Sierra Club, Code Pink, Occupy groups, and Wolf-PAC, which wants to publicly finance elections. Some toy with ideas like direct democracy and the popular vote, while others never publicly state what they would seek from a convention.  All that these groups have been able to agree upon so far is the desire to hold a COS.

• A COS cannot be limited, since there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution and no law to restrict its purpose, procedures, agenda, duration or election of delegates.

• There is no way to assure that COS delegates would obey any restrictions placed on them by the states. They may not have to run for re-election and thus would be free from accountability to the public.

• Term limits in states such as Missouri have given unelected bureaucrats the upper hand with procedural and institutional knowledge.  In Alabama, state employees lobbying the Alabama legislature already seem disproportionate to the private sector.  How much worse will it be to give the lifetime bureaucrats in DC even more power and control over a frequently changing Congress?

• There is no stopgap for preventing ill-conceived constitutional changes from being ratified by 38 or more states. Modern communications capability gives moneyed special interests the ability to whip the populace up with emotional rhetoric to get them to vote for ideas that test well in focus groups rather than those that have survived the test of time.

• We have for so long neglected to truly educate our children on the Foundational events and documents that created the United States of America that many now believe the Constitution and Bill of Rights, rather than being documents based on the careful study of thousands of years of human behavior, are outdated and irrelevant. It would be easy to stir up those so uneducated into a popular frenzy of support for any number of amendments that would fundamentally change our country.

     Let’s limit terms as needed at the ballot box and strive harder to observe the Constitution that we have.   PLEASE OPPOSE SJR87.

Blessings,
Eunie Smith

*At a minimum…the Federal Judiciary, including The Supreme Court, will have to resolve the inevitable disputes over which branch and level of government may be entrusted to decide each of the many questions left open by Article V.”
— Laurence H. Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School  (affirmed by email 4/7/2017)

“…there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention.  The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda.  Congress might try to limit the Convention to one amendment or one issue, but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey.  After a Convention is convened, it will be too late to stop the Convention if we don’t like its agenda.  The meeting in 1787 ignored the limit placed by the Confederation Congress ‘for the sole and express purpose’.”  Chief Justice Warren Burger in letter to Phyllis Schlafly.

Celebrate Church Day Care in Montgomery and Lobby against HB277 – DHR Control of Church Ministry

Celebrate Church Child Care Week and stand up for our children and religious liberty – this week at the Alabama State House in Montgomery –  Tuesday thru Thursday, April 11-13 beginning with a briefing at 10AM each morning in Room 325.  We must stop HB277.

  • HB277 is an unnecessary and unConstitutional overreach of government into church ministry.
  • It is a violation of the Alabama Religious Freedom Act and the Free Exercise Clause of the US Constitution.
  • It adds nothing to the health and safety of children already in day care run by legitimate churches.
  • The language in the bill could open control by the DHR of other church related ministries.

We have negotiated and presented ideas and language that should have satisfied the proponents of HB277, but they would not compromise in any form. This is about power and federal funding and not about Child Safety or otherwise they would have accepted at least a few of our recommended changes. See http://alabamaeagle.org/2017/04/07/get-the-facts-on-hb277

We cannot over emphasize the importance of the presence of you and your family and friends at the State House this week at least one of the days mentioned; and if you can attend more days, great. We must show our legislators that we are against HB277.  Please give us an estimate of how many you estimate will be in your group.  We will have people at the State House to help direct everyone and will have handouts in Room 325 to give to the House members along with a brief orientation.

PLEASE email or call and tell your representative that you will be in Montgomery at the state house on one of these days and you want to visit with them.  For your House Member call 1-334-242-7600 and the receptionist will connect you to your representative; or for the Senate call
1-334-242-7800 and the receptionist will connect you to your senator.
If he/she is not available ask the secretary to give them a message that you will be traveling to Montgomery to see them for 5 minutes to discuss your opposition to HB277.

Bring as many as you can! Remember, there will be a brief orientation and training. Bring your business cards, daycare pamphlets, or church/ministry information to pass out.

For information on HB277 Gets the Facts here
http://alabamaeagle.org/2017/04/07/get-the-facts-on-hb277

For Instructions for State House Lobbying, visit our website, here.

Topics

No one is exempt from children safety laws or regulations.
What is currently required of license exempt (church) facilities?
What are the thirteen agencies which regulate license-exempt providers in Alabama?
Licensed care does not ensure safety
Misleading examples of child endangerment as pretext for state action
HB277 targets church facilities but exempts certain other child-care Follow the money Public policy should be based on facts, not stereotypes
Religious Liberty Violations:  First Amendment and Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment 622, Section V Government overreach Removes parental authority and choice Truth about minimum standards Real Solutions

Signators

Dr. Allen Mendenhall, Executive Director, The Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty
Joe Godfrey, Executive Director, Alabama Citizen’s Action Program Alabama Citizen’s Action Program Robin Mears, Executive Director, Alabama Christian Education Association
Rev., Dr. John Killian, Pastor and Past President Alabama Baptist State Convention
Eunie Smith, President, Eagle Forum of Alabama
Deborah Love, Executive Director, Eagle Forum of Alabama
Eric Johnston, President of The Southeast Law Institute
Jeff Smith, Administrator of Trinity Christian Academy and Preschool, Oxford, Alabama
Danny J. Hubbard, Publisher and Author, Reveal Publishing
Scott Elliot, Director of Youth Ministries at Christ the King Lutheran Church
Dr. Tom Ford, Pastor, Grace Baptist Church and Ezekiel Academy Board Member
Col. Charles Orr, Christian Citizen Task Force, Whitesburg Baptist Church
Samuel J. McLure, The Adoption Law Firm
James McCaney, Jr. Senior Pastor, Victory Christian Fellowship Church
Maurice McCaney, Chancellor, Victory Christian Academy
Wanda McCaney, Director, Victory Christian Academy
Lorraine McCaney, Head Administrator, Victory Christian Academy
Mike Parsons, Director of Save Alabama’s Values and Education McCaney Law Group, LLC
Denise Driskell, Senior Administrator of Pathways Academy
Robert M. Driskell, High School Administrator of Pathways Academy
Rev. Jerry Johnston, Associate Pastor, Trinity Baptist Oxford, Alabama
Michael Rippy, Lead Pastor, Evangel Church, Evangel Christian Preschool

Get the Facts on HB277

Get the facts on HB277!  It is important for Alabamians to learn more about the significant role of religious and private child care providers in Alabama. A large portion of Alabama’s families rely on these providers to care for their children on a daily basis.  These are predominately church operated ministries to church members and outreaches to the community. A smaller number are affiliated with religious schools. Many prefer private facilities which are licensed exempt over state controlled facilities. In October 2016, there were 998 licensed and 943 license exempt child care centers in Alabama, according to Alabama DHR. The number of licensed exempt child care centers in Alabama is increasing because many families our choosing licensed exempt centers.

Families already have a choice between licensed exempt and licensed by the state child care providers. Yet many decide to not attend licensed child care providers and purposely go to licensed exempt child care options. Even the grandchild of the sponsor of HB277 attends a license exempt child care provider in Alabama.  Opposition to HB277 is about protecting children by protecting some of the best, safe, and positive child care options for children in Alabama. If hard working Alabamians no longer have high quality and low cost options, it harms children.  Many families will no longer have the opportunities and options they rely on for their families.

No one is exempt from child safety laws or regulations 

  • Licensed exempt day care providers are not exempt from child safety laws and regulations. All child care providers in Alabama are either licensed exempt or licensed. To become licensed exempt the provider must file appropriate paperwork with DHR including immunization records.
  • Criminal behavior is already outlawed in the state of Alabama regardless of where the crime occurs whether in a private or public setting. There are many state laws which directly address child abuse and neglect. The appropriate state agencies already possess the authority to investigate and punish criminals
  • Just as public school employees those at licensed exempt child care facilities already must pass full criminal background checks. (AL Code 38-13-3)
  • In addition, the State of Alabama already places an affirmative duty on child care employees in private and public settings with the responsibility to report suspected child abuse.
  • Child care providers are regulated for health and safety standards by multiple state agencies already. License exemption for child care providers in Alabama does not mean they are exempt from child safety laws and regulations.

What is currently required of licensed exempt facilities?

 DHR provides a list of requirements that involves their agency here http://dhr.alabama.gov/services/Child_Care_Services/license%20Exempt%20Centers.aspx

  • Notice that the child care program is an integral part of a local church
  • Notice that intent to operate a child care program has been given to the appropriate health departments so that facilities will be inspected to meet standards
  • Inspection by fire department at least once a year
  • Inspection by the Alabama Department of Public Health at least twice a year
  • Notice to the department certifying health inspection reports, immunizations, and medical forms for all staff and children.
  • Notice to parents of staff qualifications, pupil-student ratio, discipline policies, type of curriculum, religious teachings, and type of lunch program.
  • Parents required to sign affidavits about licensed-exempt status
  • Church/facility must submit affidavits of notification to DHR
  • Must follow all state and federal laws

What are the thirteen agencies who currently regulate license-exempt providers in Alabama?

  • Alabama Department of Human Resources
  • Alabama and Local Health Department
  • State Fire Marshall
  • State Building Commission
  • Alabama Department of Revenue
  • Alabama Department of Labor
  • Alabama Law Enforcement Agency
  • Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Federal Transportation Administration
  • Local Codes (zoning, safety requirements)
  • Safe States (enforce asbestos laws)
  • County District Attorney
  • The Alabama Code governing numerous aspects of caring for children

Licensed care does not ensure safety

DHR and other state agencies have failed on many occasions to follow through on inspections to facilities. In 2014 changes to block grants from the Federal Government required DHR to inspect facilities receiving grants whether or not they are license exempt.  Those inspections were not always completed.  Regulations and license requirements have failed on many occasions to protect children.

  • There is no evidence that licensed day care facilities are safer than license exempt facilities. We can all cherry pick examples in either public or private settings, but there is no factual evidence that licensed facilities are safer than non-licensed facilities.

Misleading examples of child endangerment as pretext for state action

As a matter of fact, every claim of injury to children upon which HB277 proponents rely are as a result of the violation of health standards already required of licensed exempt facilities.  If DHR and the responsible health departments had done their jobs, those events would not have happened. But more to the point, DHR regulation would not have prevented them. However, it certainly makes for good, if not misleading, selling points to uninformed observers.

Sunny Side Day Care– Sunny Side Day Care was highlighted as a key example of a licensed exempt center for a staph infection outbreak that happened at that location. Sunny Side Day Care receives funding from the Federal Government. That means state agencies already have more ability and responsibility to regulate that facility. However, on many occasions DHR has failed to inspect some facilities as they did in regards to Sunny Side. In regards to food safety all child care facilities must meet be food safety, standards already. All the reasonable measure are already in place to address this problem.  There was no clear testimony provided that regulations or licenses would have prevented the staph incident. This memorandum from the Office of Inspector General about license exempt facilities examines the legal authority. https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-10-00231.pdf

  • There is no guarantee that regulations or licenses will prevent all health incidents but one thing is clear: Alabama DHR had the ability to inspect Sunny Side Day Care facility prior to the staph incident. Licenses and regulations do not ensure a child’s safety.

HB277 exempts certain child- care facilities but targets religious facilities

Do supporters of HB277 think that licenses and the regulations associated with this bill protect children?  Why then are shopping center day cares exempt on page 6 of HB277 Why would public controlled facilities be exempt from this regulation? The potential for safety concerns for children is the same in these locations as others.

Follow the money

The free market allows parents to decide for themselves in what type of educational environment or child care facility they would like to place their child. Most parents like options because it produces the best choices for their children. However some groups and individuals are resorting to scare tactics to push economic protectionism against religious affiliated facilities. In the last several years more families have been moving away from licensed facilities and towards licensed-exempt facilities. That concerns some who benefit economically from licensed centers.

  • In addition to the economic protectionism aspects of HB277, the Federal involvement and out of state donations to lobbying organizations have thrown big money to groups and agencies to push for licensure mandates. As the fiscal note for the HB277 shows the financial support for this regulation comes from the Federal government http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/ALISON/SearchableInstruments/2017RS/FiscalNotes/FN-36426.htm. Another source of funding for this lobbying push comes from Kellogg Foundation a national out of state organization.

Public policy should be based on facts not stereotypes

Religious and secular child care providers both care about protecting children and helping families. That is why they do what they do.  There have been many innuendos and false claims made about religious institutions in Alabama.

  • The vast majority of Alabama’s religious institutions and religiously affiliated providers do wonderful work for Alabama’s families. Just as we do not judge every public school teacher by the actions of a small percentage of teachers we should apply that same respect for private and religious institutions.
  • We punish the individual not an entire religious community or group. We do not judge every private child care institution by select bad actors. That promotes fear and prejudice between Alabama’s religious populations, the general public and state agencies. Solid public policy proposals will not result from fear tactics and prejudice.

Religious Liberty Violations

“A child care facility that is an integral part of a church or nonprofit religious school shall be licensed…” (pg. 27 of HB277)  HB277 removes important religious liberty protections that ensure Alabama’s diverse religious population has freedom to exercise their religious beliefs in regards to early childhood development without government intrusion and control. “Also under existing law, child care facilities that are part of a church or nonprofit religious school are exempt from licensing by the Department of Human Resources.” (pg. 1 of HB277) Alabama’s diverse religious communities have for generations worked to protect children, start hospitals, adoption agencies, founded schools, and ministries for the poor.

Separation of church and state means that the state does not control the church or any religious institutions. If the church must receive a license from the state in order to operate a ministry that violates the religious liberty protections Alabamians have been provided in the state and Federal Constitution.  Protecting children and religious freedom are not mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact parents and the Alabama Constitution expect them to be mutually inclusive. The Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment provides for what is called the “compelling interest test.” Government may not burden or restrict a religious activity or belief without first having a compelling interest to do so in the least burdensome or restrictive way. HB277 is unconstitutional and will likely face class action suit by Alabama religious institutions. It will very likely be struck down.

  • First Amendment United States Constitution applicable to Alabama

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

  • Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment 622, section V

Section V. (a) Government shall not burden a person’s freedom of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b).

(b) Government may burden a person’s freedom of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person:

(1) Is in furtherance of a compelling government interest; and

(2) Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling government interest.

(c) A person whose religious freedom has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial, administrative, or other proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government.

Government overreach

Hundreds of licensed exempt facilities will close due to HB277 unnecessary regulatory overreach. HB277 oversteps and violates what the proper role of government is in Alabama.  The government has an interest in protecting safety of all Alabamians but that does not mean the government should control private religious institutions. Reasonable regulations and criminal laws already punish bad actors. State agencies already retain the ability to regulate and inspect in needed situations.  Demanding licenses and the regulatory power that comes with licenses will not improve children’s safety. Instead, a license requirement will mean more state control over private and religious institutions. If the church was must come to the state to request to operate then the church is not free from state intrusion. In addition to day cares HB277 will regulate mother’s day out, volunteers, day nurseries, and play groups.

Removes Parental Authority and choice

Currently there are more positive child care options and choices in early childhood service providers in the state of Alabama. Once HB277 passes that will no longer be the case. If you dislike one provider, you have options outside of state regulated facilities or facilities who accept grants. Families who rely on grants also have options currently. However, HB277 will remove this option for parents.  It will require every child care provider to follow the same regimen, and it will give state agencies control of these institutions.

Truth about minimum standards

Many private and religious child care providers in Alabama already go above and beyond minimum standards by DHR.  HB277 would require every day care facility to follow the list of regulations called minimum standards. Child neglect, abuse, health, and safety regulations and law exist and are already in place outside of minimum standards. Many religious institutions or private facilities reject DHR minimum standards.  These regulations have many aspects that are not directly related to child’s safety but they are instead more focused toward the facility.

DHR would have the full authority to deny licensing, employment, and ability to volunteer based on individual receiving speeding tickets, or criminal charges even when found innocent.

DHR would have the authority to consider a center’s beliefs unsuitable for licensing, employment and the ability to volunteer.

DHR can immediately terminate license, employment and the ability to volunteer for being viewed as unsuitable with no proof of wrongdoing. It gives them unintended control due to the subjectivity of determining who or what is “unsuitable”.

DHR can close a center for what they “think” is a lack of business funds.

DHR holds the approval to whether or not a Center Director can be hired.

DHR requirements for certain number of staff per child.

Real Solutions

Rather than address the issue of a few “for profit” daycares masquerading as churches, proponents of HB277 want to remove the protection of all churches. The good faith offer of actual redress of the real problem has been disingenuously and deceitfully rejected by supporters of HB277 in favor of unconstitutional church regulation. Using child protection as an excuse, their real goal is church regulation of this very important church ministry, the choice of parents to raise up their children in the way they should go. 

Dr. Allen Mendenhall, Executive Director, The Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty

Joe Godfrey, Executive Director, Alabama Citizen’s Action Program

Alabama Citizen’s Action Program

Robin Mears, Executive Director, Alabama Christian Education Association

Eunie Smith, President, Eagle Forum of Alabama

Deborah Love, Executive Director, Eagle Forum of Alabama

Eric Johnston, President of The Southeast Law Institute

Jeff Smith, Administrator of Trinity Christian Academy and Preschool, Oxford, Alabama

Danny J. Hubbard, Publisher and Author, Reveal Publishing

Scott Elliot, Director of Youth Ministries at Christ the King Lutheran Church

Dr. Tom Ford, Pastor, Grace Baptist Church and Ezekiel Academy Board Member

Col. Charles Orr, Christian Citizen Task Force, Whitesburg Baptist Church

Samuel J. McLure, The Adoption Law Firm

James McCaney, Jr. Senior Pastor, Victory Christian Fellowship Church

Maurice McCaney, Chancellor, Victory Christian Academy

Wanda McCaney, Director, Victory Christian Academy

Lorraine McCaney, Head Administrator, Victory Christian Academy

Mike Parsons, Director of Save Alabama’s Values and Education

Rev., Dr. John Killian, Pastor and Past President Alabama Baptist State Convention

McCaney Law Group, LLC

Denise Driskell, Senior Administrator of Pathways Academy

Robert M. Driskell, High School Administrator of Pathways Academy

Rev. Jerry Johnston, Associate Pastor, Trinity Baptist Oxford, Alabama

Michael Rippy, Lead Pastor, Evangel Church, Evangel Christian Preschool

 

 

 

 

 

Alert on HB277

We need your help protecting Alabama’s families from government overreach today!  Religious and private child care providers play an important role in Alabama. A large portion of Alabama’s families rely on these providers to care for their children on a daily basis.  These are predominately church-operated ministries to church members and to the community. A smaller number are affiliated with religious schools. Many prefer private facilities which are licensed-exempt over state controlled facilities. In October 2016, there were 998 licensed and 943 license-exempt child care centers in Alabama, according to Alabama DHR. The number of licensed-exempt child care centers in Alabama is increasing because many families are choosing licensed-exempt centers.

Families already have a choice between licensed-exempt and licensed by the state child care providers, but HB277 removes that choice.  Even the grandchild of the sponsor of HB277 attends a license-exempt child care provider in Alabama.  Opposition to HB277 is about protecting children by protecting some of the best, safe and positive child care options for children in Alabama. If hard working Alabamians no longer have high quality and low cost options, children are harmed.  Many families will no longer have the opportunities and options they rely on for their families.

Communicate your opposition to HB277

There is a lot of misinformation on religious child care providers that has been pushed by out of state forces. Get the Facts here to address some of the false statements that have been pushed on the legislators. They need to hear from you about this church regulation bill. Call, e-mail and communicate on social media to your State Representative that you oppose HB277 now.  The main number for the House of Representatives is 334-242-7600.

Let them know that not only does it violates the Alabama Constitution, but it also harms Alabama’s children by removing positive options for them.  There are a number of Republican legislators who currently support this legislation because they have not heard from their constituents, nor have they been provided with all of the facts about the bill. Many leaders throughout Alabama are stepping up to oppose this state overreach. You can help by contacting your pastor, community leaders in your area of the state or the administrator of your child’s private or religious school. Let them know you would like for them to support the Get the Facts statement on HB277.

HB277 / SB256 Must be Stopped!

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 cam@camward.com, and office number is 334-242-7873. Representative Pebblin Warren’s email address is tiger9127@bellsouth.net . 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

Most Important Pro-Life Day of the year

Alabama House designates “Pro-life Day” for March 16, 2017
Next week on Thursday, March 16, 2017 there will a special opportunity for the pro-life community in Alabama. We need your help!
March 16 this year has been designated as “Pro-Life Day” by the Alabama House of Representatives. This is a special opportunity.  Important pro-life legislation will be on the calendar. We will not have a rally outside as in earlier years. We need to have a presence inside the statehouse. To do that we need as many people as possible to be there that day. People need to call on their House member and sit in the gallery or overflow rooms to watch the debate.  We need to show the House we respect their willingness to support pro-life legislation. This is one of the most important pro-life days for Alabamians this year. We need every Eagle Forum of Alabama member and pro-lifer to be present to ensure successful passage of important pro-life legislation this year.
For more information on pro-life day this year, please contact us at (205) 879-7096. We are happy to help answer any questions about this important event. Eagle Forum of Alabama would like to see the successful passage of these bills this year.  The first three bills with asterisks listed below are pro-life bills that have been promoted for years, but have not yet passed.  We need your help to make sure all these pro-life bills pass this year.  All that is needed is your presence. You standing up for the voiceless.
Join the social media campaign for life on the Pro-Life Day next week.  Use the hashtag #prolifeAL and the phrase “Defend All Life in All Stages” starting Thursday morning.
Assisted Suicide Ban Act*
HB96 Rep. Mack Butler/SB198 Sen. Phil Williams
Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act*
HB24 Rep. Rich Wingo/SB145 Sen. Bill Hightower
Health Care Rights of Conscience Act*
HB95 Rep. Arnold Mooney/SB185 Sen. Paul Sanford
Right to Life Constitutional Amendment
HB98 Rep. Matt Fridy

Eagle Forum Of Alabama Strongly Supports Bill To Ban Assisted Suicide In Alabama

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.”

Eagle Forum of Alabama Executive Director, Deborah Love’s recently published article addresses creation of State Longitudinal Data System

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

http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/02/how_much_is_your_childs_privac.html

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.

How Much is Your Child’s Data Worth?

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.”

See Eagle Forum of Alabama Executive Director Deborah Love’s opinion piece on HB97 here and here.

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