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Congressional Action PROGRAM

PRRA Press Conference Draws Support

Addressing a room crammed with reporters, Capitol Hill staffers, and sponsors, Representative Steve Largent (R-OK) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) announced the introduction of the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act on June 28, 1995.

"It is parents who hold the keys to the welfare of our next generation," said Senator Grassley. "[This] responsibility deserves praise, it deserves respect, and it deserves legal recognition," he affirmed, encouraging fellow senators to support the PRRA, which would formally recognize parental rights as fundamental liberties.

Representative Largent introduced several speakers, including Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council, Andrea Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition, and HSLDA's Michael Farris. Each presented reasons to support the PRRA and offered examples of why such a measure is needed.

"Who do we trust to make educational choices, medical choices and religious education decisions for our children?" asked Representative Largent. "Will it be parents or the government?" PRRA co-sponsors, including Representatives Tom DeLay (R-TX), Joe Barton (R-TX) and Zack Wamp (R-TN), confirmed their support for parental rights and urged other congressmen to co-sponsor the PRRA.

Several audience members asked about child abuse issues and children's rights. Representative Largent explained that the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act would not interfere with reasonable protection of children from child abuse, nor would it allow parents to neglect or harm their children. Local officials should focus on "real abuse cases as opposed to having a broad definition where everybody and anybody is a target," explained Largent. Senator Grassley further outlined the act's purposes. The PRRA does not change current legislation, he said, but helps "protect parents from intervention by outside authorities when it's not appropriate."

Representative Largent closed the conference with a call to support parents' rights by endorsing the PRRA. He thanked co-sponsors of the House and Senate versions of the bill and urged other congressmen to listen to their constituents' concerns about eroding parental rights.

On the same day the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act was introduced, our capitol coordinators, trained by the National Center for Home Education, visited Congressional offices. The CAP visits, combined with an earlier telephone blitz, yielded tremendous results in obtaining sponsors. At the time of this writing, seventy-four Representatives are sponsoring the PRRA. (See list below.)

Action has not yet been scheduled for the PRRA, but in the meantime, home schoolers are encouraged to keep a steady stream of calls going to their Senators and Representative urging support for S. 984 and H.R. 1945.

The PRRA: What's in a Name?

When we reported on the original legislative measure to affirm parents rights, we told readers about the Parental Rights Restoration Act. That first PRRA metamorphasized into the Parents' Rights Act, which became the Parental Rights Act before it arrived at today's Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act. The name switching confusion came through the natural course of writing, revising, and redrafting this important piece of legislation. Since it has been introduced in both the House and the Senate, the act is now formally christened the PRRA (Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act) and will not change titles again. We will keep you informed of any other modifications which might come after the bill has been introduced in committee.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act Sponsors

H.R. 1946
Key Sponsors:
Steve Largent (R-OK),
Mike Parker (D-MS)

Wayne Allard (R-CO)
Spencer Bachus (R-AL)
Richard Baker (R-LA)
Bob Barr (R-GA)
Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD)
Joe Barton (R-TX)
Ed Bryant (R-TN)
Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Helen Chenoweth (R-ID)
Jon Christensen (R-NE)
Dick Chrysler (R-MI)
Bob Clement (D-TN)
Tom A. Coburn (R-OK)
Larry Combest (R-TX)
Wes Cooley (R-OR)
Philip Crane (R-IL)
Michael D. Crapo (R-ID)
Tom Davis (R-VA)
Tom DeLay (R-TX)
Jay Dickey (R-AR)
John Doolittle (R-CA)
Bob Dornan (R-CA)
John Duncan (R-TN)
Bill Emerson (R-MO)
Michael Forbes (R-NY)
John Fox (R-PA)
Robert Goodlatte (R-VA)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Dennis J. Hastert (R-IL)
Richard "Doc" Hastings (R-WA)
J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ)
Joel Hefley (R-CO)
Van Hilleary (R-TN)
Peter Hoekstra (R-MI)
John Hostettler (R-IN)
Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Y. Tim Hutchinson (R-AR)
Bob Inglis (R-SC)
Walter Jones (R-NC)
Jack Kingston (R-GA)
Joe Knollenberg (R-MI)
Ron Lewis (R-KY)
Jack Metcalf (R-WA)
G.V. Montgomery (D-MS)
Sue Myrick (R-NC)
Mark W. Neumann (R-WI)
Michael Oxley (R-OH)
Thomas E. Petri (R-WI)
John E. Porter (R-IL)
James Quillen (R-TN)
Nick Rahall (D-WV)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Matt Salmon (R-AZ)
Andrea Seastrant (R-CA)
James Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
John Shadegg (R-AZ)
Linda Smith (R-WA)
Gerald Solomon (R-NY)
Cliff Stearns (R-FL)
Steve Stockman (R-TX)
Bob Stump (R-AZ)
Randy Tate (R-WA)
Billy Tauzin (D-LA)
Charles Taylor (R-NC)
Bill Thornberry (R-TX)
Todd Tiahrt (R-KS)
Barbara Vucanovich (R-NV)
Zach Wamp (R-TN)
J.C. Watts (R-OK)
Gerald Weller (R-IL)
Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Don Young (R-AK)

Key Sponsor:
Charles Grassley (R-IA)

Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Jesse Helms (R-NC)
Trent Lott (R-MS)

The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: We Have 35 Senators!

In previous Court Reports, we explained that a minimum of 34 U.S. senators were needed to block any ratification attempt of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In order to obtain commitment in writing to oppose the treaty, we initiated two separate phone blitzes in February and July. As of August 1, 1995, 35 senators have committed themselves to opposing the Convention.

Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) and Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) introduced Senate Resolution 133, condemning the Convention. The senators' action was largely due to the continued pressure from home schoolers. Since its introduction, 24 U.S. senators have signed S.R. 133. (Ten of the signers had not previously expressed written opposition to the U.N. Convention; twelve other senators proclaimed their opposition in writing, but have not yet signed S.R. 133.)

As a result of the July telephone blitz targeting selected senators, several more senators have indicated that they are reevaluating their position and are considering signing S.R. 133.

Senator Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) was the latest to sign S.R. 133 after numerous calls and letters from New York home school associations, such as Loving Education at Home. Congratulations, LEAH, for your excellent work! Our remaining goal is to convince all the senators who have previously committed to oppose the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, but haven't yet signed S.R. 133 to place their names with the other 23-taking the total number of sponsors to 35.

The Immigrant Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1994

Senate Bill 269 and its companion bill in the house, House Resolution 1915, would mandate the creation of a national computer registry of all people authorized to work in this country and would require every employer to receive approval from this registry before hiring anyone. All births and deaths would be registered with this single federal agency called the Office of Employment and Benefits, established in the Justice Department under Janet Reno. In the name of finding illegal immigrants, these bills would regulate all Americans and implement a national computer registry and identity card system for all American workers. This vast tracking system would invade the privacy rights of all citizens.

The national identity card was discussed at length in the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration in a hearing on May 10, 1995. The card would require "either a photo, finger print, some sort of identification other than a mere name on a document." Biometric technology was suggested as a means of tracking.

Robert Rasor from the Financial Crimes Division of the Secret Service explained that there are two types of biometric identifiers: physical and behavioral characteristics. Physiological biometrics include facial features, hand geometry, retinal and iris patterns, DNA, and fingerprints. Behavioral characteristics include voice patterns and signature analysis.

Both Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) were supportive of biometric technology. The most revealing statement came from Senator Simpson, who said, "There is much to do here, but I was just saying to Ted Kennedy before he left, A hearing like this fifteen years ago, they would have torn the building down, and here we are today just a bunch of us, kind of sitting around and no media, no nothing.

"This is fine with me. I get tired of them on this issue When the President stood before the congress two years ago nearly and held up a card and said, 'This is going to be the national health card, and you will carry this, and you will receive care,' I did not see a single editorial about that. That this was the first slippery slope We've got work to do and we have the people to do it on the Subcommittee and on the Committee."

We need to prove Simpson wrong. Americans realize the implications of a massive database system and how it could be used over the years. We believe it is important that we deliver calls in opposition to this. The bills are scheduled to pass both the House and the Senate unless we are able to slow them down.

God has allowed us to make a large impact in Congress this year. However, freedom is still going to require eternal vigilance. The passage of the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act, the defeat of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, the attempt to pass a bill to abolish the Department of Education, and the fight to stop S.B. 269 and H.R. 1915 will require focus and effort, but God has been gracious to us before, and we will trust in His timing and in His power.