Mike Thompson writes:
As my friend David Moody of Lubbock put it--
The Legislators need to hear from us supporting these bills. (See Below.)
Tomorrow the legislature will vote on HB2684 (described below). Please
call, fax or e-mail to let your
state rep's know where you stand on this important legislation and how you
want them to vote.
From Austin American Statesman
Pampa House member pushes three pro-marriage bills
One bill has already lost much of its bite in floor debate
By W. Gardner Selby
Saturday, April 14, 2007
A Panhandle Republican seeking to discourage hasty marriages and quick
divorces said he remains hopeful of sending Gov. Rick Perry pro-marriage
legislation despite a setback.
"This needs to be a nonpartisan issue," said Rep. Warren Chisum of Pampa,
who plans to mark his 50th wedding anniversary in October. "This is about
what's good for Texas. Deep down, people don't want to be a part of
On Thursday, House members heeded Rep. Senfronia Thompson's opposition to
Chisum's plan to charge couples that forgo prenuptial counseling an extra
$70 for marriage licenses. Members took the financial carrot out of the
counseling pitch and restored the license fee to the existing $30.
"We ought to stay out of people's lives," Thompson, D-Houston, said later.
"The Republican Party is supposed to be for limited government."
House Bill 2685 still sailed to the Senate with more than 90 votes. Under
his counseling proposal, individuals would be encouraged to take a
premarital education course lasting at least eight hours, at an estimated
cost of $360 a person; low-income participants could seek a state
scholarship. Topics would include conflict management, communication
skills and the impact of family violence.
On completion, participants would qualify for waivers of the license fee
and the state's 72-hour waiting period between issuance of a license and
House members also advanced Chisum's House Bill 2683, allowing the state
to provide federally funded grants of up to $50,000 to programs helping
low-income residents toward healthy marriages and families. Neither the
text of the measure nor its fiscal note indicate how many of the federal
grants would be available.
But a Chisum anti-divorce measure still awaits House action. House Bill
2684, slated for debate Tuesday, would encourage couples considering
divorce to attend 10 hours of marriage counseling. Topics would include
conflict management and communication and forgiveness skills. Couples
confronting family violence would be exempted.
The counseling would cost an estimated $450 per person, with scholarships
available to low-income residents. On completion, couples could still
divorce within 60 days. Couples that bypass counseling would have to wait
two years between filing for a divorce and getting it approved.
Thompson, who is a lawyer, expressed skepticism. "When you've got somebody
that doesn't want you, when it's over, it's over," she said. "Why not
allow them to go on with their lives? Why are you forcing people to stay
Chisum said he developed his ideas to slow marriages and divorces with the
help of the Texas Conservative Coalition's research arm and after
sponsoring the proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as
solely between a man and a woman that voters approved in 2005.
In House hearings, conservative groups and ministers testified for the
counseling proposals. The National Association of Social Workers opposed
Chisum suggested there ought to be laws to diminish the fact that one in
two marriages fail.
"If you don't think families are good for Texas, you won't like this," he
said. "If you do, you will."