RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – The sometimes-controversial legislation called the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” may not move out of the North Carolina House of Representatives this session.

House Speaker Tim Moore (NCGA)

House Bill 755, which was approved on June 3 by the state Senate, apparently won’t be taken up in this short session, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said, because there is a concern that, even if it were to pass, the bill would be vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper, The News & Observer in Raleigh reported.

To override a veto by Cooper requires a few Democrats in the General Assembly to vote with Republicans, which would not be likely on this issue. That picture could change in November’s elections, when the GOP would need three seats in the House and two in the Senate to have supermajorities.

Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Winston-Salem) told WGHP that the delayed vote was consistent with what he was hearing. Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Whitsett), the House majority whip, said he wasn’t sure yet.

N.C. Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford County) (Courtesy of Jon Hardister)
N.C. Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford County) (Courtesy of Jon Hardister)

“We haven’t had a major discussion about it,” he said in a text message.

House member Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro) said such a decision is in line with what would House members expected would happen with controversial policy bills in this short session.

“Speaker has been pretty clear all along,” Harrison wrote in a text message to WGHP. “So that would be consistent with his position on medical marijuana and Medicaid expansion.”

Those two significant policy decisions that were approved by the Senate haven’t been taken up in the House. Moore has said that he hadn’t seen much enthusiasm within his caucus to do that.

“We’ve really not decided if we are going to move it in the short session,” Moore said. “And really, the reason is, we’ve looked at it and we’ve counted the votes, and right now as it is, we don’t see a pathway, necessarily, to it becoming law. Because we don’t have enough Democratic members who have indicated they would join in on a likely veto override.”

Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Winston-Salem)

HB 755 was filed more than a year ago, sponsored in the House by two representatives from the Triad, Hardister and Rep. Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes), along with Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R-Valdese) and Rep. John Torbett (R-Stanly), and passed the House on party-line votes. Its Senate version requires new votes.

Most of the items in the bill are covered by existing state statutes and processes. It’s the issues about personal pronouns and teachers’ responsibilities to communicate with parents about discussions that might emerge and the limitations on curricula in kindergarten through Grade 3 that draw the most attention. The bill has been likened to Florida’s controversial so-called “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”

What’s in the bill

Otherwise, the Senate’s bill specifies:

  • A parent would direct the education and care of a child, including the moral and religious training, have school choice options, be able to access and review all educational records and to make all health care decisions – all of which already are available to parents.
  • No testing, sampling or storage of biomedical or DNA material from a child and no video recording of a child may be conducted without a parent’s permission.
  • A parent must be notified if a state employee suspects that a criminal offense has been committed against the child unless that notification would impede a criminal investigation.
  • Public schools must communicate policies and procedures with parents, which typically they do.
  • Parents have the right to withhold their children from discussions of reproductive health and safety programs, the right to seek a medical or religious exemption to immunization requirements, the right to review state educational testing data and reports and to inspect textbooks and curricula.
  • Instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity shall not be included in the curriculum in grades kindergarten through third, regardless of whether the information is provided by school personnel or third parties. The bill also requires schools to notify parents if a child wants to adopt a different pronoun.
Michael Garrett
State Sen. Michael Garrett

Senate Democrats filed a bill in response that addressed some of the same points, sponsor Michael Garrett (D-Greensboro) said, and drew from conversations with parents who told them what they want.

“Unlike the other proposal in the Senate, our proposal isn’t imported from another state and forced on our parents and students,” Garrett said.

Moore told The News & Observer that existing laws are in place to determine when it’s “age-appropriate to talk about these kinds of issues.” Moore told the newspaper that legislators should consider the bill in a “careful and methodical” manner and avoid turning the issue into a “political football.”