During the 85th Texas legislative session, Texas Home School Coalition pushed to pass the Family Unity Act—a series of bills to protect parental authority in the court system. Unfortunately, the Family Unity Act bills stalled or were blocked from passing into law.
This was particularly upsetting because positive support from around the legislature dwarfed outright opposition. So, why did the family law bills not pass?
Family Law Bills up against the clock in House
In the House, our family law bills—HB 1361, 1899, and 2890—made progress through committee. However, the bills never reached the floor for a vote. Time ran out against hard deadlines.
The chair of the Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee, Rep. Harold Dutton, supported our bills. Regrettably, by the time these bills were voted out of committee, it was too late to bring them to the House floor for a vote.
THSC Bills Blocked in the Senate
A different story unfolded in the Senate involving Sen. Joan Huffman.
The Senate does not have the same deadlines that the House adopts. Instead, State Affairs Committee Chair Joan Huffman once again blocked good family law bills from being heard or voted on.
SB 816, our bill requiring that Texas courts assume that fit parents act in the best interest of their child, was never brought up for vote after a hearing.
Our other two family law bills in the Senate—SB 815 and SB 1019—were blocked from even being heard in committee. This was despite early and repeated attempts to contact Senator Huffman’s office to request a hearing or set up a meeting to discuss concerns.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Senator Huffman played a major role blocking important parental rights legislation.
During the 2015 Texas Legislative session, THSC pushed SB 414—the Texas Parental Rights Restoration Act (TPRRA). However, Senator Huffman blocked this bill. Like SB 816, the bill was heard in committee well before Senate deadlines but was never brought up for a vote.
We will continue pushing legislation that protects parents and home schooling each legislative session. But, while Senator Huffman remains in her position as chair, we can expect the same results.
THSC Committed to Family Law Bills
The THSC Watchmen and Policy team are working hard to pass bills for Texas families during the legislative session. The teams are also on alert to keep you informed about your legislators and candidates. So, be sure to sign up for our email notifications to receive important legislative updates.
As always, your support is vital. Please consider donating to THSC to help the THSC Watchmen team continue protecting parental rights and Keeping Texas Families Free.