Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Watson and Rose underhandedly hurt Parents with SB1440

Over a year ago, Texas CPS used a false allegation to seize 440 children from their families at a polygamist FLDS sect ranch, which a court ended up finding illegal. I thought the CPS, in the blanket removal of hundreds of children from families, acted over-the-top and their lies and mis-statements to the press were self-damning. Apparently, the Texas Dept of CPS rationalized. But one year after the FLDS raid, legislators took up attempts to reform how CPS handles such cases.
The current situation is this: "State law allows the agency to remove alleged perpetrators from a home, but only after an investigation has probed far enough to identify the alleged abuser and determine whether another adult in the home can safely take care of the alleged victim." This is reasonable, it relies on the common-sense presumption of innocence. I have heard enough horror stories of false accusations of child abuse to know that giving CPS too much power is as bad or worse than giving too little.

So it is odd to find that Sen Kirk Watson and Rep Patrick Rose signed up to give us a 'cure' worse than the disease, as I found via email. Here are the details of what their bill does via Parent Guidance Center:

SB 1440 is a bill sponsored by Kirk Watson passed with an amendment written by Rep. Patrick Rose. The amendment should terrify all parents, and especially homeschoolers. It is a bill designed to overcome the court decisions in the FLDS case by the 3rd Court of Appeals and the 5th Circuit case, Gates vs. Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (CPS).

This bill violates 4th amendment rights as it is an end run around the requirement that CPS obtain a search warrant based on probable cause to go into your house to take your kids away for an "interview". It also allows access to medical records without a search warrant or parental consent.

The bill allows CPS to take an affidavit to a judge for an order "assisting investigation" and does not even require "a cause to believe"(that language was taken out) before the judge can issue the order. The standard is a "a fair probability that allegations of abuse or neglect will be sustained", which is ambiguous on its face and can easily be manipulated.

The bill also says that the affidavit can be "based on information available" which could merely be an anonymous complaint! Thus, your neighbor with whom you are feuding can call in and anonymously make a report, triggering CPS to obtain this order.

Homeschoolers are at risk because, one of the elements is that the order "is necessary to aid in investigation." That will always be the case for homeschoolers because CPS does not have the ability to go take your kids out of a government school without your knowledge. Thus, CPS will argue the fact that you are homeschooling as a ground for obtaining this order.
They ask:
We are mobilizing a veto campaign to convince Governor Perry to veto this bill and we need your help. Please call and/or write Gov. Perry and ask him to VETO SB 1440.
Now why does this bad bill require a veto? Because of the under-handed and sneaky way Rep Patrick Rose put this into law, as Tim Lambert explains:
On the last day of the session, Representative Patrick Rose, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, offered a floor amendment to SB 1440 (another bill by Watson), which was on the Local and Consent Calendar. The amendment offered by Rose was the language of committee substitute SB 1064, and since SB 1440 was considered non-controversial and the sponsor of the bill (Rose) agreed to the amendment, it was adopted on a voice vote, and the final language of SB 1440 includes the committee substitute language of SB 1064.

This whole sordid story is an example of how legislation that could never pass a public debate and vote in the Texas legislature can become law. I'm sure the intent of those seeking these changes is to protect children from abuse, but to allow this simply because it makes the process go faster is a gross abuse of parents' rights to protect their children.
Sordid indeed. Here we have an abusive agency (CPS) that screwed up bigtime, and the 'cure' is to give that agency MORE POWER that could possibly be used to further degrade the rights of parents vis a vis their rights to access to their children (and right not to have them taken away without just cause), and to add insult to injury, this bad bill was slipped in a very underhanded way.

Way to screw parents, Sen Watson and Rep Rose!

The last line of defense on this is indeed Gov Perry. I hope he vetoes this SB1440 bill, which never got the proper public debate and 'thumbs down' in the lege that it deserved.


Anonymous said...

Timeline ---> 2 weeks
Goal --> 200,000 signatures

Jerri Lynn Ward said...

Please see this:

We are having a press conference on the steps of the Capitol at 1 PM tomorrow, June 10. Tim Lambert of the THSC, Jonathan Saenz of Free Market Foundation, Brian Russell SREC, Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas, Campaign for Liberty and Texans for Accountable Government will be there among many others.

specialkayster said...

I am an innocent victim of an irrational investigation conducted by CPS. My family was accused of child abuse because I used a long-practiced swabbing whiskey technique that my parents used on me, my husbands parents on him, and their parents on them, etc. The investigator, who claimed she had never heard of the practice, was motivated my racism… not “reverse racism,” mind you, there is no such thing! I had a McCain sticker on my counter and I am convinced that she saw it. When I contacted the investigator to find out the status of the case and offered my assistance and to give her my pediatrician’s information, she said NO - we have our own doctors that we work with…. Unbiased doctors that have NEVER seen or heard of my child.
This case has caused emotional trauma on my entire family!!! I don’t trust ANYONE anymore, and when my daughter falls and gets bruised, I don’t leave the house in fear that someone will think I did something to my baby.
CPS will have the power to remove a child without cause and I’m sure she would have taken my daughter had this bill been law. PLEASE contact the governor so my situation does not happen to other families!!!

Aqsa Rao said...

Good work....
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