HB 253, by State Representative Harvey Hilderbran, has been scheduled for a vote in the Texas House on Thursday. You may remember that we first drew attention to the bill because of concerns regarding drastic new penalties for truancy as well as allowing “home visits” by law enforcement officers in certain circumstances.
After the hearing on March 1 Representative Hilderbran responded to our initial concerns and agreed to amend the bill, which he did in committee. However, we explained that the bill still had problems for us related to lowering the standard that would now be required before CPS can remove a child from a home. The current statute requires that the child be in “imminent physical danger.” HB 253 struck this language and made it much easier for CPS to remove children. We expressed to Representative Hilderbran that we would have to oppose his bill if those sections remained in the bill.
State Representatives Bryan Hughes and Van Taylor agreed to vote the bill out of committee only if Hilderbran would accept an amendment on the House floor to address any remaining concerns that THSC had. Representative Jodie Laubenberg expressed the same concerns and voted against the bill in committee.
Tuesday morning I received a call from Representative Hilderbran’s office notifying me that the bill was scheduled for a floor vote and stating that he would accept an amendment on the floor by Representative Hughes to delete Sections 2, 4, and 5 as we had requested. Representative Hilderbran’s initial reluctance to address our concerns was overcome by the hundreds of phone calls that went in to committee members’ offices. We thank him for his responsiveness and we are grateful to the hundreds of home schoolers who called to raise these concerns regarding the effect of this original bill on parental rights. We are also extremely grateful to Representatives Hughes, Taylor, and Laubenberg for their strong support.