Parental Rights Update

On Monday (March 28, 2011), the Texas House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence held a hearing on many bills including HB 2557, the Texas Parental Rights Restoration Act. You can watch a recording of the hearing here. Things went very well.

While the Family Law Foundation (a group representing family law attorneys) opposed the bill with testimony from one attorney and the group’s lobbyist, we had two family law attorneys, who have practiced for more than 20 years, give testimony. One of these attorneys has a parental rights case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. We also offered written testimony from three other attorneys–one of whom is a former district judge–all of whom supported the bill. Read the testimonies of Chris Branson Attorney at Law; James A. Pikl Attorney at Law; and Greg Wilhelm, J.D.,M.A., former Texas trial court judge. Probably most importantly, Chassidie Russell shared her personal experience with having lost her daughter to non-parents for four years. While it was obviously difficult for her to share, it was vital in helping the legislators see the personal pain and destruction the grandparent access law causes to families. I, too, offered testimony, and the committee seemed to be supportive of the bill.

I visited legislators about the measure again this morning and plan to do so again on Thursday. If your legislator is a member of this committee (and only if they are a member), please call them and ask them to vote this bill out of committee next week. We are cautiously optimistic that this bill can be voted out of committee and pass the House. THSC will be lobbying all legislators on this bill next week in our April Capitol Day and Parental Rights Rally. Come join us.

HB 253 was voted out of Committee last week after the author deleted the language that we had opposed. We also received an assurance from the author that he would accept additional amendments to resolve any remaining concerns we might have. We continue to track more than two dozen bills and talk to legislators about concerns that could impact home school families. In an update on HB 196 and SB 207, we notified the authors of the TEA change in policy requiring a written notification from parents who are withdrawing their children to homeschool, which makes their bills unnecessary. We also explained that if the bills were presented for a hearing, we would oppose them on that basis.

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