Erin’s Law ‘close to passing’ in Legislature
Lawmakers are closer to passing Erin’s Law, which requires schools to teach their students about sexual assault awareness. On Wednesday, dozens of people gave emotional testimony in support of the bill.
The bill is currently in the hands of the Senate Finance Committee. There was concern among supporters that this bill would not pass this special session, but there was movement Wednesday.
One section of the bill, referred to as “Bree’s Law,” would require teaching students about dating violence. It was named after Butch and Cindy Moore’s daughter, whose boyfriend is charged with her murder.
The House passed Erin and Bree’s laws in Juneau during regular session. Some senators did not like the bill, worried it was infringing upon parental rights, so the bill was changed, making the teaching optional for schools.
But Sen. Anna MacKinnon worked with other senators and changed it back to a requirement for schools. Many testified in favor of that Wednesday, saying the teaching is necessary to empower children.
The bill Senate Finance presented also allows parents to take their kids out of the class, instead of following the previous requirement of having to sign them up. One testifier says it works better that way because some parents aren’t as involved in their children’s education as other parents, citing drug addiction, mental illness and co-parenting.
Butch and Cindy Moore, along with other supporters, say the changes made by Senate Finance are encouraging and they hope legislators will show their support.
“We have nothing to gain from this other than to save other people’s lives and that is really what Bree would want us to do,” said Butch Moore.
If the bill passes in it’s current form, teachers will have to go through training on dating violence and abuse awareness and prevention.
MacKinnon says she hopes to pass the bill out of the Senate Finance Committee at a meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. on Thursday. Then it will head to the Senate and House for a vote, possibly by the end of Thursday.