Texas House Battles Over Daytime Curfews

HB 1886 by Miklos is a bill requested by the mayor of Balch Springs, which has little or no police force. The bill would allow them to ask the county sheriff and deputies to enforce the city’s daytime curfew. It was on the House floor today (Friday, May 1) for a vote. Our good friend Representative Wayne Christian asked if we would support an amendment that would exempt home school students from the bill, and we said, “yes.” Unfortunately we did not clarify that while we supported such an amendment, it would neither resolve our concerns nor cause us to support the bill. That caused confusion and put him in a difficult position. Representative Miklos accepted the amendment on the second reading, and the bill passed as most of the House members believed our concerns were resolved.

THSC sent e-mail messages to all the House members stating that, while we supported the amendment, it did not resolve our concerns. We asked them to vote “no” on the bill as it came up a couple hours later for final passage. The bill was also opposed by the ACLU and the Free Market Foundation. It is very rare for a bill to win passage on the second reading and then be defeated on third reading, but that is exactly what happened. Representatives Carl Isett, Betty Brown, and others laid out the problems with the bill and explained how it impacts home school students and minorities, and the House voted the bill down 76-61. We were very happy, to say the least.

Moments later Representative Mark Homer took the unusual step of moving to reconsider the vote – he wanted the House to take up the issue again. It was then late on a Friday afternoon, and the next vote would probably be closer. Some of the ten Democrats who voted with us to kill the bill could reverse themselves under pressure from their leadership to help freshman Miklos.

Republican leaders responded by agreeing to the vote to reconsider if the bill would be postponed for final consideration until Monday morning, which was agreed to. The reason Republicans agreed is that some members were not on the floor, and in a very close vote it is common to ask for a verification of the vote, which means the roll is called to confirm the vote; if a member is not on the floor, his vote is stricken. It is common for members to vote for their friends on such key issues, and the Republican leadership did not want to take the chance of losing a close vote on an issue important to the home school community.

Since the House will be in session, I decided to spend my Saturday in Austin and work to try to preserve the defeat of HB 1886. We are urging the home school community to make calls to their state representatives Saturday, May 2, and Monday, May 4, and ask them to continue to oppose HB 1886. The vote will be close, but we must stop the expansion of daytime curfews.