On September 5, State Representative Cindy Burkett announced her candidacy for Texas Senate District 2, challenging current Senator Bob Hall. Homeschoolers need to be aware of the potential threat to parental rights that Rep. Burkett would be in the Texas Senate.
Senator Hall has proven to be one of the most conservative members of the Texas Senate and a strong advocate for parental rights. In fact, homeschoolers played a significant role helping Senator Hall win his seat in an upset victory over then-Senator Bob Deuell in 2014.
By comparison, Cindy Burkett has grown increasingly hostile toward parental rights during her time in the Texas House. Here are five of the biggest concerns on Representative Burkett’s record.
1. Cindy Burkett Killed THSC’s Priority Parental Rights Legislation in 2015
During the 2015 Texas Legislative session, THSC’s first priority reform was the Texas Parental Rights Restoration Act (HB 524). This bill would have corrected a major loophole in Texas family law to protect fit parents from frivolous and abusive lawsuits.
At the beginning of the session, THSC asked Representative Burkett to carry this legislation. She agreed. However, it became increasingly clear as the session went on that she had no intention of passing the bill.
Representative Burkett constantly stalled any action on the bill and demanded that concessions be made to the Family Law Foundation, which was an organization actively lobbying against the bill. Then, after months of slow “progress,” the bill died on a procedural deadline.
You can read more about this point as well as some of the others below in Stephen Howsley’s 2016 article on the election.
2. Cindy Burkett Opposed THSC’s Efforts to Correct Major Parental Rights Issues in 2015
As if actively working against important family law reforms was not enough, Cindy Burkett also was the House author CPS bill SB 206 and opposed THSC’s attempts to add strong protections to it in 2015.
THSC sought to amend this bill in 2015 to address one of the major issues faced by the Tutt Family in their CPS case: unenforced deadlines for completion of CPS cases.
THSC worked hard to amend the bill on the House floor, but Representative Burkett opposed THSC’s efforts and worked with House leadership to force the bill through without addressing the problems.
3. In 2017, Cindy Burkett Authored the Worst CPS Bill in Recent Memory
In the 2017 regular session, Representative Burkett authored HB 1549, which was a major CPS bill that—in its original filed form—would have granted outrageous powers to CPS.
If passed, the bill would essentially have enabled CPS to invade the home of any family in Texas without evidence as long as CPS had labelled that home to be “at risk” of abuse or neglect. Specifically mentioned in the list of “risk factors” was the family’s income level.
Low-income and single-parent families could have been unjustly targeted simply because of their family’s circumstances.
Although THSC worked tirelessly with Representative Burkett’s office to try and resolve problems with the bill, she refused to make the final changes needed to protect parental rights and Texas families.
Thankfully, due to strong opposition from homeschoolers, activists and other organizations, these harmful provisions were removed from HB 1549. Read more about HB 1549 in Jeremy Newman’s article from July.
4. Cindy Burkett Opposed School Choice Programs
School choice was a major issue in the 2017 regular session, and THSC supported several bills to improve educational choice for parents. However, Amendment #9 by Rep. Gary VanDeaver specifically prohibited state funds from being used for school choice programs.
There are many different types of school choice bills, but all are designed to provide parents greater control over their child’s education by making it easier to access alternative education options.
Sadly, Cindy Burkett voted in favor of the amendment, thereby blocking any funding to any type of school choice program for Texas parents and families.
5. Cindy Burkett Has Supported Misguided House Leadership
Over the course of the last few legislative sessions, Cindy Burkett has consistently chosen to support House leadership, which has actively opposed and killed important pro-parental rights, pro-homeschool legislation.
Perhaps more damaging in effect than any of the other issues, Representative Burkett has consistently supported House Speaker Joe Straus and his leadership team.
The leadership of the Texas House has long been the single biggest roadblock to conservative legislation in Texas, even going so far as to openly oppose Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on their conservative legislative agenda.
For too long, the Texas House blocked the passage of pro-parental rights, pro-homeschool legislation. Unfortunately, Rep. Cindy Burkett has drifted more into the camp of the Austin establishment, which actively fights against the principles she claims to support.
For any true conservative, the political decisions that Cindy Burkett has made are unconscionable. A political figure cannot genuinely adhere to conservative ideals and come back to voters with her stained record.
This is why THSC removed our support of Cindy Burkett in the 2016 election. It is also why homeschoolers should unite together to oppose Representative Burkett in her bid to unseat parental rights advocate Senator Bob Hall. This is how we come together Keeping Texas Families Free.