June 5, 2009

Dear Fellow Texan,

Don’t breathe that sigh of relief too soon!  While the Texas Legislature has adjourned, there are many harmful bills that made it thru the session and now await signature on the Governor’s desk.  One that poses a real threat to parents and families in Texas is SB 1440. 

Read the Parent Guidance Center’s press release below or visit Tim Lambert’s Right in Texas blog where you can read more about how this language made it into a bill at http://www.rightintexas.com/

For Liberty,

Debra Medina

Texas State Coordinator


Please call the governor’s office and ask him to veto this SB 1440.


Information and Referral Hotline [for Texas callers] :
      (800) 843-5789


Citizen’s Opinion Hotline [for Texas callers] :
      (800) 252-9600


Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers] :
      (512) 463-1782


Office of the Governor Main Switchboard :
      (512) 463-2000


Citizen’s Assistance Telecommunications Device
      If you are using a telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD),
      call 711 to reach Relay Texas


Office of the Governor Fax:
      (512) 463-1849




Parent Guidance Center, 9600 Escarpment Blvd, Suite 745-255, Austin, TX 78749

Released by: Judy Powell, Communications Director

Telephone: 832-592-1323

Email: judy@parentguidancecenter.org

June 4, 2009





Austin, Texas:  The Texas Legislature passed a new law May 30th which will potentially suspend 4th amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure during the investigation phase of child protection cases.

All families are at risk in the state of Texas if the governor signs this bill.  The FLDS case, where Texas took over 400 children based on the “umbrella of beliefs” held by their parents and no tangible evidence of abuse or neglect, demonstrated the sweeping power that the government wields against families, even when reports are false.  Rights are ignored in the name of “child protection.”  If SB 1440 is not vetoed, Child Protective Services will be able to gain access to people’s homes and children by merely presenting an affidavit to the court asking for a court order to “aid in an investigation.”  This dispenses with a search warrant based on probable cause or a hearing during which parents can defend themselves and CPS must prove “good cause” for obtaining access to children and their medical and mental health records.

“If after being served this order, parents assert their 4th amendment rights, they may be held in contempt of court!” said Johana Scot, executive director of Parent Guidance Center, an organization that helps parents involved in CPS cases.  “How can this be in the best interest of a child in the United States of America?”

The original bill (SB 1064 by Kirk Watson) died on the floor but was revived by Patrick Rose as a last minute amendment to Watson’s SB 1440 and seeks to get around obstacles to information gathering with merely a court order issued for “aid in an investigation” when accusations of abuse or neglect are made “based on information available” which in the case of the FLDS was a hoax phone call.  Parents who do NOT agree to let their children be questioned, transported, or traumatized by strangers could then be presented with a court order sworn by “an investigator or authorized representative of the department” who could then gain access to their property, records, and children.  These court orders can also be gotten without a family’s knowledge that they are being investigated.

The new law goes even further by striking the term “for good cause shown” and lowers the evidentiary bar by only requiring “fair probability that allegations of abuse or neglect will be sustained if the order is issued or executed.”  A search warrant requires probable cause; CPS investigations will no longer require good cause at all.  Anonymous reports and lack of a hearing will place all families in jeopardy.

“It is disappointing and disturbing that the Texas Legislature would seek to get around court rulings that kept families’ rights in place,” Scot said.  “This bill puts families between a rock and a hard place with confusing language that makes the law harder for ordinary citizens to understand rather than clarifying it.”  DFPS already made great strides to change their policies and procedures after these court rulings.



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