Unfortunately, the Tim Tebow Bill did not make it through the House during the 2017 Texas Legislative session.
The bill died on May 20th, the 131st day of the 85th legislative session. This bill would have allowed home school students equal access to the UIL activities supported by taxpayers.
Throughout the session, the bill overcame several challenges until failing to advance from the House Public Education Committee. Here’s what unfolded.
Chain of Events in the Tim Tebow Bill
Two identical bills were filed at the beginning of session: SB 640 by Sen. Van Taylor and HB 1323 by Rep. James Frank.
– SB 640 passed the Senate Education Committee 8-2 on April 12th and the Senate Floor via 25-6 decision on April 19th.
Senators Van Taylor, Donna Campbell, Eddie Lucio and Don Huffines were the primary supporters of the bill in the Senate. Sen. Larry Taylor, the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, was also instrumental in passing the bill from committee to the floor. Meanwhile, Senators Royce West and Kel Seliger led opposition against the bill in the Senate Committee.
During the Senate hearing, 20 witnesses testified in person on behalf of the bill. Two represented THSC: Public Policy Director Jeremy Newman and President Tim Lambert. The other witnesses represented voices from the home school community: parents, students and home school extracurricular coaches and directors.
Also, the THSC Watchmen collected, compiled and submitted to the committee written testimony from members of the home school community who were unable to testify in person. The Senate hearing was a resounding success. But, more work was required.
– HB 1323 was heard in the House Public Education Hearing on April 28th from 1:00 am to 3:30 a.m. Sixty witnesses came in favor of the bill, in addition to 15 more whose written testimony THSC provided to the committee, including home school parents and students, public school coaches, public school teachers and administrators, and many others. These witnesses came from diverse educational backgrounds to address each side of the issue.
However, due to repeated delays the hearing did not begin until 1:00 am. Sixteen home school parents and families testified in person in favor of the bill when the bill was heard. The witnesses spoke in favor of the legislation from their experience as home educators, extracurricular coaches and directors, and as public school educators.
Then came a key turn of events. Rep. Joe Deshotel, a member of the House committee who originally supported the bill, switched his vote the day before the hearing. This left the bill one vote short of passage. Representative Deshotel reported to the bill author that he had committed to the Texas High School Coaches Association that he would oppose the bill.
In response, THSC Watchmen lobbied the committee members and spent hours personally conducting calls to hundreds of constituents in the districts of the House Public Education Committee to raise support for the bill.
These results are disappointing, considering the broad support the Tebow bill has received from the public and the legislature at large. THSC remains convinced that if the bill was ever allowed to the House floor for a vote, the bill would pass with broad support just as it has in the Senate 3 years in a row.
Currently, 34 other states allow home school families to participate in activities through their local school. The Texas Senate has approved the Tebow bill with broad support every session it has been offered. Scientific polling indicates that 77 percent of home school families are in favor of equal access for home school students to participate in UIL activities.
However, it was not enough and the Tebow Bill officially stalled on May 20th. Although the bill did not make it through this legislative session, the home school community made their voices heard and Texas families clearly showed their support to state legislators. It’s high time that the Texas House considered the voices of the families and children who would benefit from the Tebow bill rather than bending to the will of the public school lobby session after session.
Tim Tebow Bill in Review
THSC made more progress this legislative session than any other legislative session since the Tim Tebow Bill was introduced in 2013. The bill received overwhelming support from constituents and narrowly missed passing through the final House committee.
THSC will not stop fighting for legislation that increases parental rights and home school opportunities. The purpose of the Tebow Bill is to protect liberties for the home school community and THSC will continue proudly fighting until the bill is passed.
This is part of THSC’s firm commitment to advocating for home schoolers and protecting parental rights. Here is your opportunity to join the fight. Please consider signing up to become a THSC member or make a donation to THSC today.