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“Parental rights” bill signed into law

The bill identifies parental rights as “fundamental rights,” which the bill’s sponsor says will make it harder for government to interfere.


The “Parental Rights Protection Act” by Rep. Kenneth Paschal, R-Pelham, was the first piece of legislation in the session to be backed by the Alabama Republican Party.

Now it has been signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey, but it had a notable journey through the Alabama House of Representatives, coming to the floor three times before finally being passed.

Democrats criticized the bill the first time it came to the floor, questioning the intent behind the bill.  The bill identifies parental rights as “fundamental rights” that can’t be taken away unless there is a “compelling reason” to do so.

Paschal and others have said this will protect parental rights from being interfered with by state government, but have never been able to explain exactly how the statute would apply. Critics have cautioned that the language is similar to pushes in other states and at the federal level—U.S. House Republicans put forward a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” that would require schools to give parents a list of reading materials available at the school library and publish their curricula online.

The debate on the floor took another turn when Rep. Juandalynn Givan, R-Birmingham, came to the well and quoted from “The Story of O.J.” by Jay-Z to Paschal, the lone Black Republican in the Alabama Legislature. The original lyrics include the N-word, but Givan did not use that word on the floor. However, the Alabama Republican Party called on Givan to be reprimanded over the remarks on the floor based on the implication.

The bill finally passed through the House late in the session and quickly through the Senate to make it into law.

“Because the agenda of the 2023 regular session was so jam-packed, many worthy and significant pieces of legislation failed to secure final passage,” Paschal said.  “The fact that I was able to have four bills pass and signed into law offers evidence of their importance in improving the lives of everyday Alabamians and the men and women who serve our nation in the military.”

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Paschal had three other bills pass through the Legislature during the session, all involving the military.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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