Traditional Values

Legislators have kept traditional conservative values at the forefront of public policy in Texas, enacting legislation ranging from regulating abortion and strengthening marriage, to increasing penalties for child sex offenders and enhancing Texans’ right to defend their homes from intruders.

 

Senate Bill 319 (78R) Protection of an Unborn Child

Senate Bill 319 extended to unborn children the normal legal protections against offenses that can be committed against individuals, such as homicide and assault. The bill provided exemptions for cases where the death of the child is a result of the mother receiving a legal abortion.

SB 319 was in keeping with the value we should place on the sanctity of life, including the lives of unborn children. It is important that the law extend protections to unborn children in cases of death or injury. The vast majority of people recognize that death or injury to an unborn child is unjust taking of life for which the law should provide recourse.

Key point: Senate Bill 319 amended the definition of “individual” in the Penal Code and the Civil Practice and Remedies Code in order to protect unborn children from homicide and assaultive offenses.

 


 

House Bill 15 (78R) Regulation of Abortion

House Bill 15 made a range of reforms to the state’s regulation of abortion, including establishing that an abortion cannot be performed without the voluntary and informed consent of the pregnant mother, and that only a medical center licensed to perform abortions may perform an abortion on a fetus aged 16 weeks or older.

Significantly, the bill also required women seeking an abortion to be provided with information concerning the particular medical risks associated with abortion and indicating the availability of resources such as medical assistance, child support, and counseling, as well as printed information related to the abortion procedure and alternatives to abortion. The bill required a woman to certify in writing that the information was provided to her, and prohibited a medical practitioner from performing an abortion until receiving confirmation that the standards for informed consent have been met.

HB 15 also made changes to the licensing required to permit a medical center to carry out abortions. Previous law stated that an office of a physician that performed less than 300 abortions in any twelve-month period was exempt from licensure requirements; HB 15 tightened this requirement so that a facility that performs at least 10 abortions per month or 100 abortions per year requires licensing.

This bill was instrumental in reducing the number of abortions recorded in Texas. Between 2003 and 2004—the period in which the bill became effective—the total number of abortions performed on Texas residents declined by around 3,500. It was not until 2006 that the number of abortions finally surpassed those performed before HB 15 was enacted:

Key point: House Bill 15 provided for further regulation of abortions in Texas with a focus on ensuring that pregnant women understand the ramifications of, and alternatives to abortion.

 


 

Senate Bill 7 (78R) Non-Recognition of Same Sex Civil Unions

Senate Bill 7 provided that the state or an agency or political subdivision of the state may not recognize a public act, record, or judicial proceeding that creates, recognizes, or validates a marriage or civil union between persons of the same sex in this state or in any other jurisdiction.
The bill also established that the state and its political subdivisions do not acknowledge any right or claim to any legal protections, benefits, or responsibilities asserted as a result of a marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union in Texas or in any other jurisdiction.

Key point: Senate Bill 7 established that same-sex civil unions cannot be recognized by the State of Texas.

 


 

House Bill 320 (78R) Parental Consent for Administration of Drugs to Children

House Bill 320 established that a parent, guardian or managing conservator’s refusal to administer psychotropic drugs or consent to the psychological or psychiatric treatment of a child, is not itself considered negligent. Specifically, the bill established that such a refusal is not negligent unless the refusal to consent presents an imminent risk of harm to the child.

Parents should have the ultimate authority to determine what is best for their child and should be able to parent their child without the interference of others, unless there is real concern about the safety of a child. The often prescribed Ritalin, for example, is a psychotropic drug and a parent’s refusal to give it to their child should be a decision made by the family, and not forced upon them by fear of being found negligent.

Key point: House Bill 320 established that parents could not be held negligent on the basis of their refusal to have psychotropic drugs or other psychiatric treatment given to a child.

 


 

House Joint Resolution 6 (79R) Protecting Marriage

House Joint Resolution 6 proposed an amendment to Article I, Section 32 of the Texas Constitution to read ―marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. The amendment was ratified in the constitutional amendments election on November 8, 2005.

In placing the definition of marriage in Article I of the Texas Constitution, HJR 6 appropriately defined marriage as a right available only to one man and one woman. Strong families translate into a health society, and every effort should be made to ensure that marriage is a strong institution built on the principle of a union between one man and one woman.

HJR 6 continues to uphold the value of the family in the Texas Constitution and as such, ensures that traditional family values—a core conservative principle—remain at the center of state law.

Key point: House Joint Resolution 6 amended the Texas Constitution so that marriage in Texas may consist solely of the union between one man and one woman.

 


 

House Bill 2228 (79R) Offense of Online Solicitation of a Minor

House Bill 2228 expanded anti-solicitation laws to expressly penalize individuals who solicit minors online for sexual contact. The bill established as a state jail felony the offenses of "online sexual communication with a minor" and "online distribution of sexually explicit material to a minor." The bill provided a third degree felony offense if an individual solicits a minor for sexual activity or makes arrangements to meet a minor. A second degree felony was established for the offense of communicating with, distributing materials to, or attempting to meet a minor under the age of fourteen, with the intent that the minor will engage in sexual activity.

The bill also required a person convicted under any of its provisions to register as a sex offender.
The sexual solicitation of minors is a depraved act that should be met with harsh criminal penalties. HB 2228 updated the Penal Code to specifically address online solicitation.
These were necessary reforms as the internet was—and remains—a common medium by which sexual predators contact minors with the intent of engaging in sexual exploitation.

Key point: House Bill 2228 provided protection for children on the internet by creating the offense of online sexual solicitation of a minor.

 


 

House Bill 839 (79R) - House Bill 904 (79R) Penalty for Child Pornography Offenses

House Bill 839 provided that electronic equipment such as computers could be seized and destroyed after final conviction in a child pornography offense. The bill updated existing law which only allowed for printed images to be forfeited to the state and destroyed.
HB 839 ensured that the state can deal effectively with the media through which obscene images are frequently stored, accessed, and transmitted.

House Bill 904 built on reforms enacted by the 75th Legislature, which allowed the sentences for certain crimes (intoxication manslaughter and some sexual offenses) to be served consecutively at the will of a judge. This is important because child pornography offenders frequently collect multiple images or recordings, each of which can be prosecuted separately. In the absence of this bill, each offense would have to be tried separately in order for the sentences to be served consecutively.

Key point: House Bill 839 allowed for the seizure and destruction of electronic materials upon final conviction in child pornography cases. House Bill 904 allowed a judge to require that child pornography sentences be served consecutively, rather than concurrently.

House Bill 383 (79R) Parental Right to Reasonable Corporal Punishment of a Child

Corporal punishment is often and wrongly confused with child abuse. When applied prudently, corporal punishment is an appropriate form of discipline. According to an article in the Journal of Adolescent Health, corporal punishment helps children learn the appropriate appreciation for authority, learn self discipline, develop better social skills, and improve moral character.

Furthermore, parents and guardians have serious rights and obligations in the upbringing of their children, including their moral, intellectual and physical development. If corporal punishment aids in the development of these objectives, then parents ought to have the right in exercising this behavioral authority. HB 383 clarified these rights and the extent to which they can be used by parents, step-parents, and legal guardians.

Key point: House Bill 383 clarified that a parent, step-parent, or legal Guardian of a child may use reasonable corporal punishment to fulfill their duty to control and discipline a child.

 


 

House Bill 2683 (80R) - House Bill 2685 (80R) Marriage Education Courses

HB 2685 increased the fee for a marriage license from $30 to $60. However, the bill exempted couples who have undertaken a marriage preparation course from both the marriage license fee, and the 72-hour waiting period between the issuing of a marriage license and the date on which the marriage can take place.

Encouraging couples to undertake premarital education courses is intended to provide them with the skills necessary to resolve marital conflicts, which will make for stronger marriages that are less likely to end in failure. It is indisputable that marriage has a positive impact on the well-being of adults, children, and families, and that it improves satisfaction with life and fosters economic stability.

HB 2683 required that a minimum of one percent of federal funds received under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant is directed each biennium to fund marriage education programs for low income couples.

Key point: House Bill 2685 encourages applicants for marriage licenses to take voluntary marriage preparation courses; House Bill 2683 provides funding for marriage education courses offered to low income couples.

 


 

House Bill 3687 (80R) Religious Expression in Public Schools

House Bill 3687 required a school district to treat a student’s voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint on an otherwise permissible subject in the same way it would treat their secular point of view on the same subject. The bill stipulated that a school district must allow religious gatherings of students before, during, or after school and that these groups must be given the same access to school facilities as other groups. The bill also states that a student will be permitted to express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and any other written and oral assignments.

Key point: House Bill 3678 safeguarded students’ First Amendment rights by clarifying that they may express their religious beliefs at school and at school-sponsored events.

 


 

House Bill 1287 (80R) Bible Elective Course in Public Schools

House Bill 1287 allowed school districts to offer an elective course on the Bible and its impact on western literature. The purpose of the bill was to ensure that students can gain knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy.

The bill required a course on biblical teaching to adhere to state and federal guidelines on religious neutrality. The Commissioner of Education was charged with developing and implementing resources for school districts to use when training teachers on how to teach elective Biblical courses including how to avoid devotion or proselytizing in the classroom.

Key point: House Bill 1287 allowed school districts to provide an elective course to high school students on the Bible and its impact on the history and literature of Western Civilization.

 


 

Senate Bill 378 (80R) Castle Doctrine

Senate Bill 378 removed the statutory requirement to retreat before using deadly force against an intruder. The bill established that if a criminal is injured while invading your home, business, or vehicle, the criminal or their family has a limited ability to seek legal recourse. SB 378 was an important reform that protected the rights of property owners and appropriately established that criminals are not given undue protections or rights under Texas law.

Key point: Senate Bill 378 established the presumption in law that if a criminal forcibly enters your home, place of business, or vehicle, the criminal intends to cause bodily harm or death giving the potential victim the presumption to defend himself.

 


 

House Bill 8 (80R) Prosecution of Child Sex Offenders (Jessica’s Law)

House Bill 8 established a minimum sentence of 25 years imprisonment for anyone who is convicted of a sexually violent offense committed against a child who is under 14 years of age. The bill established that a second sexually violent offense committed against a child who is under 14 years of age is a capital felony.

The bill imposed severe criminal penalties on the perpetrators of sex crimes against children which will serve as both appropriate punishment and a significant deterrent.

The bill also required GPS tracking of certain registered child sex offenders. GPS tracking is a vital tool for ensuring that the state is able to keep close tabs on the violent sexual predators that it releases on parole or when their sentences are served.

GPS tracking may deter an offender from committing subsequent crimes, and makes detection, prevention, and prosecution of such crimes more straightforward for law enforcement officials.

Key point: House Bill 8 established more severe penalties for those who commit sexual offenses against young children and allows the death penalty to be pursued for a second offense.

 


 

House Bill 1034 (80R) One State Under God

Key point: House Bill 1034 added the words “state under God” to the pledge of allegiance to the state flag, so that the pledge reads: “Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.”

 


 

House Bill 2240 (81R) Protecting Victims of Family Violence

H.B. 2240 treats a recurring pattern of domestic violence as a pattern of criminal behavior. The bill provides that two or more domestic violence offenses occurring in a 12-month period are aggregated into a continuous violence against the family offense, punishable as a third degree felony.

Key point: H.B. 2240 will help to protect the victims of family violence against cyclical or repeated attacks by the same perpetrator.

 


 

Senate Bill 1188 (81R) Second Amendment Rights

Senate Bill 1188 upholds citizens’ Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms by allowing Texans to purchase firearms or ammunition from any state, in concert with federal gun regulations.

Key point: The legislation gives Texans access to a nationwide free market for firearms and ammunition.


Legislative Advertising. Brent Connett for
Rep. Geanie Morrison, President, Texas Conservative Coalition.
P.O. Box 2659, Austin TX, 78768 | Phone: 512-474-1798
Copyright 2008 - Texas Conservative Coalition