The THSC Watchmen and Policy Team have spent the 2017 Texas Legislative session campaigning to make significant progress for the home school community.

The Parent-Child Protection Act, Family Unity Act, and Tim Tebow Bill are all moving through the House and Senate. These initiatives are split over or included in 20 bills moving through the legislative process.

2017 Texas Legislative Session Update: CPS Reform Bills

In the Senate, the Parent-Child Protection Act (SB 1415 by Sen. Bryan Hughes) was heard in committee on April 26th. After several amendments to the bill, the committee substitute to SB 1415 was favorably voted through committee on May 3rd.

In the House, the Parent-Child Protection Act (HB 3297 by Rep. Dustin Burrows) and the Child Trauma Reduction Act (HB 3316 by Rep. James Frank) were both heard in committee on May 3rd.

In a major victory on Monday (May 8th), Rep. Dustin Burrows added nearly all of THSC’s priority CPS issues from the Parent-Child Protection Act onto HB 7, which is a major CPS bill carried by Rep. Gene Wu. The bill passed the Texas House on Monday with important language from the Parent-Child Protection Act included.

SB 738 and SB 1063, which are two of THSC’s smaller CPS reform bills carried by Senators Lois Kolhorst and Charles Perry, also passed the Texas Senate and are waiting to be heard in the Texas House.

Update: Family Unity Act

The THSC Watchmen and Policy Team are committed to making the Family Unity Act a priority in the 2017 Texas Legislative session. These three bills are making progress to protect the rights of Texas parents and home school families.

HB 1361 by Rep. James White alleviates home school families’ financial and emotional burden by applying the current deadline for CPS cases to non-CPS cases.

These include cases filed by non-parental third parties against the parent for access to the child or possession of the child. This bill calls for judges to dismiss a case if it has not been heard in one year (if the deadline is not met).

HB 1899 by Rep. Scott Sanford protects fit parents by keeping families intact. This bill would prohibit the court from issuing an order that is contrary to the fit parent’s expressed wishes unless there is substantial proof that it would protect the child.

The court should not be allowed to overrule a fit parent because of a disagreement over a legitimate parenting decision.

We are pleased to report that HB 1361 and HB 1899 were passed favorably by committee on May 3rd. The vote was 5-0 and 5-1, respectively.

HB 2890 by Rep. Jodie Laubenberg protects fit parents who have a previously closed case later re-opened and are brought back to court a second time.  The bill requires that the same legal protections which apply in the first case also apply when the parent is sued the second time.

The Senate versions of each bill—SB 1019, SB 816 and SB 815—have all stalled in the Senate committee.

Meanwhile, SB 816 was heard in committee on May 1, but Chairwoman Joan Huffman displayed hostility towards the bill through her questioning. The bill has not moved since the hearing.

Update: Tim Tebow Bill & More

The Tim Tebow Bill that would allow home school students access to public school sports and activities has received broad bipartisan support from the legislature. The bill has also received endorsements from coaches, teachers, home school parents and home school students across the state.

SB 640 by Sen. Van Taylor passed the Senate on April 19th and is waiting to be referred to the House Public Education Committee.

The House companion bill, HB 1323 by Rep. Frank, is currently awaiting a vote following a hearing in the House Public Education Committee.

More than ever before, THSC has seen significant movement on key legislation during the 2017 Texas Legislative session. The Watchmen and Policy Team are working harder than ever Keeping Texas Families Free.

Follow the Watchmen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay updated on the legislative session. Also, consider donating to the THSC Watchmen as they work to protect home schooling and parental freedoms in Austin!