The hearing that was scheduled for SB 1148, the anti-parent bill supported by the Texas Family Law Foundation (TFLF), was held as I posted yesterday, but SB 1148 was pulled from the agenda by its author, Chairman of the Senate Jurisprudence Committee Sen. Royce West.
A couple of media outlets attended the press conference that THSC hosted at noon yesterday. The purpose of the press conference was to allow some of the witnesses who came to share their own stories of the horrors of being sued by in-laws for possession of their children, even though they were not even alleged to have done anything harmful to their children. One TV station aired a good report. One newspaper reporter also interviewed us; you can read his story here.
Watching the response of the TFLF lobbyist, I was reminded of a conversation I had earlier in the day with a legislator who told me he was amazed when, in hearings, some people simply “made stuff up that had no resemblance to the truth” in order to try to win their case. The lobbyist tried to make the case that SB 1148 would simply change the law so grandparents could rescue their grandchildren from harmful situations. I kept watching to see if his pants would burst into flames.
While SB 1148 has one sentence that amends a section of the family code related to cases regarding abuse and neglect, the two main points of change are related to the grandparent access statute that does not relate to unfit parents. The lawyers want to allow any grandparent to be able to sue their own children or in-laws for access or possession for any reason.
The courts have said that grandparents must provide an expert to prove what the current statute requires to prevail, which is that “denial of the access or possession would ‘significantly impair the physical health or emotional well-being of the child.’” The TFLF wants to add language that explicitly says no expert testimony is required. In other words, the judge would be allowed to take the opinion of anyone to prove the harm as set out in the law.
We will sit down with the TFLF lobbyist to discuss our concerns with their legislation, but they have already made clear that they will not support our efforts (SB 1194 and HB 2547) to close the loopholes in the law that result in the violation of the parental rights of thousands of parents in Texas. Please continue to pray for this critical issue and stay tuned. We will let you know when the next hearing might be.