During the most recent legislative session, one of THSC’s top priorities was passing the Child Trauma Prevention Act. Unfortunately despite our efforts, the bill failed due to immense inaction by many lawmakers.
In short, the Child Trauma Prevention Act did not pass because an unknown member of the House Calendars Committee prevented it from being voted upon on the House floor. Furthermore, House leadership and Governor Abbott failed to intervene.
What Happened to the Child Trauma Prevention Act in the 2019 Legislative Session?
Following the 2017 legislative session, Governor Abbott commissioned a workgroup to study CPS’s pleading practices. THSC participated and worked with Child Protective Services (CPS), the Texas Supreme Court Children’s Commission, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and numerous other stakeholders to develop solutions to the issues that were identified by the workgroup.
Those solutions, along with provisions to address a number of other issues, were then incorporated into the Child Trauma Prevention Act. THSC worked tirelessly throughout the interim period and the 2019 legislative session to achieve consensus from all major stakeholders about the exact wording of the bill.
The Child Trauma Prevention Act was heard in its House committee with no witnesses testifying against the bill. The bill then passed committee 7-1.
Despite consensus and good faith efforts from all parties regarding the bill’s intent and exact language, the bill was held up when it got to the House Calendars Committee.
Why did this happen?
How the Child Trauma Prevention Act Died in 2019
Historically, the Calendars Committee has been used to kill bills that House leadership did not support. With new House leadership, however, it was promised that Calendars would no longer be used to kill bills. Unfortunately, those promises were not fulfilled.
Although House leadership did not use Calendars to stall the bill, an unknown member of the committee held up the bill and ultimately prevented it from receiving a vote on the House floor. However, each of the committee members gave assurances that he or she was not the one blocking it.
There were only two known individuals who opposed the merits (rather than the exact wording) of the Child Trauma Prevention Act. The first was State Rep. Gina Hinojosa who serves as vice chair of the committee which initially considered the Child Trauma Prevention Act. Although her reasons for opposing the bill are unknown, she was the only “no” vote in committee.
The second person was Judge Darlene Byrne, who serves as judge for the family law court in Travis County. Her opposition to the bill was based on two provisions: correcting the evidentiary standard at the adversary hearing and updating the court-ordered services statute.
The Child Trauma Prevention Act, a bill that had nearly unanimous consent from the committee and among stakeholders, died because one unknown person had concerns that he or she never attempted to address. It is a disappointing and frustrating loss for homeschoolers and Texas families.
The bill would have gone a long way toward protecting families who find themselves wrapped up in the CPS system. Unfortunately, Texas families will have to wait another two years before the legislature has another opportunity to address the problems in the CPS system.
However, despite the disappointing outcome this session, THSC will continue fighting to protect families who find themselves involved in the CPS system. To those who oppose due process for Texas families, let it be clear—we’re not going away.
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