by Dawn Scott, Vice President
STAR-Support Texas Adoptee Rights
Legislative sessions can seem a bit daunting here in Texas, and the political climate itself might feel so polarizing and exacerbating that we tune out, but here are a few updates on bills that I hope you’ll be interested in hearing about as they directly impact our adoption community.
HB2725 authored by freshman Rep. Gina Calanni, herself an adoptee, enjoyed one of the highest tallies of Co-authorship in the House with 35 sponsors, aligning both sides of the aisle. It would have restored the right of an adopted person to access their OBC (original birth certificate) without the current protracted adjudication process. HB2725 successfully passed out of the Public Health Committee after an eleventh inning revote thanks to the continued efforts of advocates and Capital allies. In a pivotal moment, Chairman Senfronia Thompson convened her committee on very short notice exclusively to gather that key majority vote before the deadline. It then passed favorably out from the Calendars Committee and was scheduled to be heard for a floor vote on the final night of eligibility, but was left to die stalled behind a few controversial bills that were hotly debated in the very last hours of session. Heartbreaking as this seems, the good news is legislators were still signing on in support that evening, a strong signal that momentum continues to mount for this clean OBC access bill. Equal rights for adult adoptees remains a nonpartisan, popular issue that will return in 2021!
A positive outcome for foster youth was attained with passage of HB 123 by Rep James White, that streamlined procedures for obtaining drivers licenses. Companion bill SB481 by Sen. Kirk Watson was placed onto the coveted local and uncontested calendar in the final days of session and it’s passage was widely applauded as a victory to further independence and self-determination of youth overcoming systemic bureaucratic hurdles. CASA among other groups supported this legislation.
A bill establishing criminal penalties for physicians and others who tamper with or otherwise violate the integrity of transferred genetic material during ART and insemination procedures was also passed. Initiated by citizen champion, Eve Wiley of Dallas, whose surprise DNA saga attracted national media attention, even appearing on abc’s 20-20, this law aims to prevent fertility fraud by raising the offense to a felony sexual assault. SB 1259 sponsored by Joan Huffman, was passed unanimously by both chambers, signed by Gov. Abbott and became law effective Sept.1st.
Dawn Scott is the current Vice President of Support Texas Adoptee Rights (STAR). She has been serving on the board since 2015. She is also past president of Adoption Knowledge Affiliates and currently serves in an advisory role to the AKA Board of Directors. Dawn is passionate about adoptee rights for all adoptees, both in Texas and nationally. When Dawn is not advocating at the Capitol she is devoting time to her passions - her Beauty Counter small business, and her top priority, raising her daughter Ava with the same commitment to leadership, advocacy and truth.
www.texasadopteerights.org & www.Beautycounter.com/dawnscott