Kentucky Advances Bill Requiring Moment Of Silence In Schools

The Kentucky state House overwhelmingly approved a measure that would instruct public schools in the state to allow for a moment of silence at the start of the school day, the Associated Press reported.

The bill, HB 96, easily passed with a 79-17 vote in the Republican-controlled state House.

Under the measure, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Daniel Fister, the daily moment of silence would last no more than two minutes. Students would decide how they would spend that time while school staff and teachers would be prohibited from offering instruction on how students should use the moment of silence.

The bill would require school districts to send a letter to parents explaining the moment of silence and asking that parents instruct their children on how they should spend that time.

Democrat state Rep. Tina Bojanowski, an opponent of the bill, warned during the debate that the measure was a way to return prayer to public schools, something that was banned decades ago after the Supreme Court ruled that it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Another opponent of the measure, Democrat state Rep. Josie Raymond, insisted that a moment of silence had no place in public schools and should remain in the home between parents and their children.

The bill will now move to the Kentucky Senate.

Republicans hold supermajorities in both the state House and Senate.

The state House last week also unanimously passed HB 30, a bill aimed at preventing suicides among military veterans in Kentucky. The measure would create a suicide prevention program with the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs that would coordinate with officials from Health and Family Services.

Also receiving a unanimous vote was HB 19, a bill expanding the requirement for drivers to move over or slow down when approaching emergency vehicles along the side of the road. The bill would expand the current law to also include any disabled vehicle that displays a warning signal.