Your Inside View to the Strategies and Activities
of the Conservative Movement in Washington
Issue 170 * July 7, 1997
The National Center for Public Policy Research
20 F Street NW, Suite 700 Washington, D.C. 20001
Fax (301) 498-1301
E-Mail: [email protected]
Activities at the July 1 Family Forum meeting chaired by Mike Schwartz of the House Family Caucus and Amy Ridenour of The National Center for Public Policy Research.
Molestation Case Points to Need for Parental Consent Reform
Tamara Meijian of the office of Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK) discussed Rep. Istook's intention to propose a parental consent amendment for Title X to the FY98 Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations Bill, which will be marked up the week of July 15. An immediate incentive for proposing this amendment is an Illinois case receiving headlines in which a 37-year-old gym teacher began molesting an 8th grade girl, and drove her to a McHenry County health clinic where she received a shot of the controversial contraceptive drug Depo-Provera without a parent's consent. The clinic had had a rule requiring parental consent for minors but had been forced to give up this requirement in order to be eligible for federal funding. Istook's amendment would require minors receiving federally-funded birth control services to receive the permission of a parent or guardian. Mike Schwartz commented that the only possible reason to oppose this amendment is if one believes that parents are abusive and pose a greater threat to children than child molesters. Schwartz also discussed the epidemic of sexually-transmitted diseases among teens, and a need for federal policymakers to that the STD threat into account when setting policy. Contact Tamara Meijian at 202/225-2132 and Mike Schwartz at 202/225-2701.
Bill to be Introduced to Restore Rule Saying that Federal Agencies Must Keep Families in Mind
Mike Schwartz of the House Family Caucus announced that on July 9, following a 9:30 am press conference at the Capitol, legislation will be introduced to reinstate President Reagan's Executive Order (recently abolished by President Clinton) requiring federal agencies to consider, when developing regulations, the impact the regulation will have on families. Contact Jacqueline Halbig at 202/624-3019 or Mike Schwartz at 202/225-2701.
New Bill Lets Parents Know What's Happening at School
Mike Schwartz of the House Family Caucus reviewed Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS)'s "Parental Freedom of Information Act." The act, to be introduced in July, is designed to guarantee that parents have access to the same information about their children's school experiences as do school personnel. The bill, if approved, would give parents the statutory right to know the content of school materials, tests, the particulars of medical exams and so forth. Under this law parents would not, however, be granted access to materials school officials themselves do not see, such as the composition of SAT tests. Contact Chris Israel in Rep. Tiahrt's office at 202/225-6216 or Mike Schwartz at 202/225-2701.
It's Not "Needle-Exchange" Any More, Say Activists, but "Syringe-Exchange"
Shepherd Smith of Americans for a Sound AIDS/HIV Policy reviewed U.S. needle-exchange policies. He noted first that pro-exchange activists have developed a new, more politically-correct name for the program: "syringe-exchange," because the program hadn't been popular with the public under its original name. Smith then reviewed the results of a scientific study of the effectiveness of these programs, which he distributed. The study concluded "Very high HIV and HCV prevalence rates suggest that needle sharing is normative despite an active [needle-exchange program] which currently exchanges >2 million needles per year." Smith noted an irony: "The very people who are against teen smoking are for needle exchanges. They don't say use smoke-filtered cigarettes. They say smoking is wrong." Currently the HHS Secretary has the authority to lift the federal ban on federal funding of needle-exchange programs, but the Appropriations Committee may restore this power to the Congress. Contact Shepherd Smith at 703/471-7350.
The Supreme Court Makes King George Pale by Comparison, Says Analyst
Mike Schwartz of the House Family Caucus discussed the Supreme Court's decision striking down the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Schwartz said that the Supreme Court made a mistake, which, as it itself as acknowledged, it commonly does. In this situation, he said, they did so in 1990 when they said that the free exercise clause essentially doesn't mean a thing. So Congress in 1993 passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a check on the Supreme Court. The Court has now thrown out Congress' action. Schwartz added: "When the Supremes claim that the Constitution means whatever they want it to mean and no one else can say anything to the contrary, they are imposing an aristocracy on this country that makes whatever King George did to make us mad pale by comparison." Schwartz is promoting a strategy to get Congress to approve several resolutions expressing its views on the free exercise clause and then a bill circumventing the Supreme Court's appellate authority. This latter action would be based on authority explicitly granted to the Congress in the Constitution, Schwartz said, although it has not been used by the Congress for the last 130 years. Following this, Schwartz said, Congress should pass RFRA again, and this time the Court may not find RFRA unconstitutional. Schwartz opined that "if we fight for RFRA through a constitutional amendment, we surrender to the Court." Contact Mike Schwartz at 202/225-2701. *
Activities at the June 25 Wednesday Strategy Lunch chaired by Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation.
Forbes Runs Commercials Against Continued High Federal Spending
Joel Rosenberg of Steve Forbes' message tank, Citizens for Hope, Growth and Opportunity, played television ads AHGO is running around the U.S. (including 127 times on CNN alone). The ads point out that President Clinton is spending more as a percentage of GDP than has any other president, including during World War II. AHGO also just completed its first town hall meeting with a meeting in Kansas featuring Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and a debate between an expert favoring a flat tax and one preferring a national sales tax. Contact Joel Rosenberg at 703/925-9281.
Analyst Expresses Concern About Export of Advanced Encryption Technology
Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy distributed his center's Decision Brief #97-D 88, "Breaking the Code on the Encryption Debate: National Security Interests Are Being Jeopardized." Gaffney is sympathetic to the concerns of Americans who want to be secure in their personal communications, but he is also concerned about the export of advanced U.S. encryption technology to foreign powers. Contact Frank Gaffney at 202/466-0515 or [email protected] or visit the center's web site at www.security-policy.org. *