Thursday, February 19, 2009

U.S Parents Rights Legislation

With the beginning of the 111th Congress, old bills are being resurrected - in particular, last sessions Presumptive Parental Rights Bill - H.J Resolution 97. I am grateful to F.R.A.M.E.D in Georgia for keeping track of the current roster of 23 supporters in the House of Representatives (go to link above for complete list at F.R.A.M.E.D).

Apparently it will be sponsored again in the Senate by Democrat Daniel Akaka of Hawaii and Michigan 2nd District Republican Representative Pete Hoekstra (F.R.A.M.E.D is keeping the Georgia caucus on notice). Pete Hoekstra is a strong proponent off Parents Rights and has a few good articles about his thoughts on his website.

As we are discussing a similar Bill here in Canada with the Hon. Maurice VELACOTT MP Saskatoon - Wanuskewin SK (Conservative) and the Canadian Equal Parenting Counsel (CEPC). I though it would be instructive to review the U.S experience. Here is the last U.S version (after an extensive preamble) and proposed resolution:

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That it is the sense of the Congress that joint custody laws for fit parents should be passed by each State, so that more children are raised with the benefits of having a father and a mother in their lives.
To keep up-to-date on legislative developments I have posted a "legislation tracker" in the sidebar. If you want to know more just click the link and you will find yourself at the relevant link.

Equal Parenting Legislation is also being pursued in other State legislatures. Glenn SACKS has asked for support of New Hampshire "Comparable Parenting" bill HB139. I believe other states like Iowa, Washington and Michigan already have such legislation in place.

Note: GovTrack has some worthwhile advice on how to effectively influence your Senator or Congressman.
  1. Write a letter. Fax's are ignored (and perhaps emails as they have become ubiquitous) although most Senators/Congress members are now all tied into to their parties "database" for issue tracking.
  2. Include your full name, address, postal code and tel# so they can identify and track you.
  3. State your concern succinctly and clearly. It is best to reference a specific bill or resolution by name/number and indicate your support or opposition.
  4. A brief explanation of the legislation specific impact on your town, county or province. (W5)
  5. Sometimes a personal anecdote may be used to illustrate popular support or opposition on the floor, but many aides claim this is where most letters "go off the rails" as far as brevity and clarity are concerned so they do not recommend it.
Here are also some links to obtain contact information for Canadian MP's, Alberta and Ontario MLA's. Here are links to GovTrack's Federal Senate and Congress members, as well as the Iowa, New Hampshire and Georgia Legislature's.

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