It’s a question Act for America asked at the end of the Legislative session last May—why did SB 531 (ALAC) NOT receive enough votes to move the bill out of House Calendars Committee before the May 24th deadline?
Since the 84th Lege ended, time has indeed provided the opportunity to obtain documents and review videos in order to construct a timeline of the key events based on the facts as they are known today.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane.
On February 10th, 2015 SB 531 was received by the Texas Secretary of State and filed—don’t take my word for it; you believe the official website of the Texas Legislature right?
And on February 17th, 2015 THIS letter from the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas—addressed to every member of the Texas Legislature— was circulated among the Lege—prior to the February 18th first reading of the bill.
Note the next-to-closing sentence; this is very important:
“Members of the Family Law Section and the Texas Family Law Foundation will be in attendance again every week to answer questions…”
Let’s refresh the memories of any member claiming ignorance of the February 17th letter. Listen to Steve Bresnan’s testimony in the May 4th, 2015 Senate Committee on State Affairs (emphasis mine):
“I’ve given you two handouts;one is a two page letter that’s been distributed about FIVE times this session—and before and during the session—that enumerates the provisions in existing law that protect against the sort of shocking things that people are concerned about—“
Not only was The Letter (as I’ll now refer to it) circulated prior to the February 18th, 2015 first reading of the bill, but according to Bresnan’s testimony the letter was circulated about FIVE times prior to the May 4th Senate Committee on State Affairs.
Moreover in that same May 4th Senate Committee on State Affairs the concerns of the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas were echoed by Joshua Houston, General Counsel, Texas Impact whose members include those of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith that were objecting to SB 531:
But what happened at the last minute as House Calendars deadline loomed on the horizon?
This is the amazing part.
Thanks to a local radio personality who brought State Representative Debbie Riddle on his show, I learned of the existence of a letter written by Judge Judy Warne of the 257th Judicial District Court to State Representative Riddle.
And I obtained a copy of it through the Texas Public Information Act.
The first sentence reads:
“I am responding to your question about Texas courts and judicial tools to prevent applications of foreign law that are inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution, as well as our states public policies. I understand your question is asked in light of Senate Bill 531 which addressed the issue of foreign law in Texas family law cases…”
Read the letter here.Judy Warne DOC138.pdf
The facts would indicate Judge Warne responded to Representative Riddle’s questions prior to the May 24th deadline of House Calendars—and Judge Warne followed up with the letter dated May 27th.
At this juncture, it’s plausible the answers from Judge Warne in conjunction with the multiple letters from and visits by the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas and the testimony against the bill from Texas Impact raised sufficient doubt for House Calendars to vote against bringing SB 531 out of Committee to the floor for a record vote.
Relief for some, battle cry for others?