Victory over Daytime Curfew Bill – We Think

The battle against daytime curfews has continued to take many forms over the last few years. We have opposed HB 1886 since early spring because it would expand the possibilities of daytime curfews in Texas. We opposed the bill in the Urban Affairs Committee; it passed. We opposed it in Calendars Committee, and it was finally brought to the floor last Friday for consideration.

I miscommunicated to a friend in the legislature who sought to fix the bill by exempting home schoolers. I told him I’d support the amendment but did not communicate clearly that I still opposed the bill and would work against its passage. When the bill came to the floor for second reading, the Miklos amendment exempting home schoolers was accepted, and the bill passed because most thought our concerns had been successfully addressed. We sent an e-mail stating otherwise to house members and asked for a no vote on third reading. The bill then was defeated with ten democrats voting against it 76-61.

As I have mentioned before, the House voted to reconsider the vote and postponed the final vote till yesterday. On Saturday, while the House was in session, Representative Miklos asked to meet with me to address the issue. He said that he did not intend to impact home schoolers and expressed his frustration that he had not been made aware of these concerns earlier. I pointed out that we had explained our concerns at the hearing and that I had, as a courtesy, met with his chief of staff before the hearing to do so directly.

He also expressed his disappointment with the failure of what he thought was a solution to the problem in the amendment that was brought to him by supporters of home schooling in the legislature. I apologized for the handling of that and for my failure to clearly point out that the amendment did not resolve our problems. We then discussed our issues with daytime curfews in particular, and he finally asked if the mere existence of daytime curfews was a threat to us, to which I answered yes.

He continue to say that he had met many home schoolers in his district and did not intend us harm. I asked, in view of that and the current impasse, if he would consider withdrawing his bill. He said he was not ready to do so and had to talk to a few more people.

Over the weekend we developed a flyer to distribute to the House members on Monday morning to outline our opposition to the bill by highlighting how it impacted minorities based on the Houston Chronicle article from 2007. We distributed it to every member in preparation for a final vote, because we fully expected that Miklos was working to move enough Democratic members who had voted against the bill to support it. Our flyer highlighted oppostion not only from THSC but also Eagle Forum, Free Market Foundation, ACLU, NAACP, and LULAC.

Miklos asked a Democratic legislator to have a friend of THSC speak to him about the issue, and in response the friend went by his office Monday morning. Miklos’s staff was very arrogant and condescending and showed no signs of concern about our position. A few minutes after that visit, Miklos contacted this person directly and spoke with him outside the House floor and, just before noon, said that he planned to pull the bill down and not raise it again. About 3:30 when the bill came up on the floor, Miklos moved to postpone it until 12:01, Christmas Day, 2010. This was a humorous way to announce that he was removing his bill from consideration.

So it seems that the bill is dead, but we will continue to monitor the issue – just to make sure.