Texas Bill Allows Foster Care Agencies To Use Religion In Placement Decisions

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky Fogel and Travis BubenikMay 11, 2017 3:53 pm

The Texas House gave final approval to a bill Wednesday that would allow faith-based child welfare agencies to legally reject prospective adoptive and foster parents based on the agency’s “sincerely-held religious belief.”

The bill’s author, Wichita Falls Republican James Frank, says the goal of the measure is to expand the number of groups involved in finding homes for children.

But Dallas-based educator and Latina activist Joanna Cattanach says the bill will have the opposite effect. She used to be in the Texas foster care system herself.

“I think it will discourage families from stepping up to take foster children in,” Cattanach says. “I know it’s discouraging my family. My husband is Muslim, I am Christian. Under this bill we would not be acceptable to a private agency. I already have two children, and I am a former foster child. I am the kind of home that would be a good placement. But this bill would discriminate against us.”

Cattanach says when she was a foster child she never worried about a potential foster family’s religion.

“Religion was never a factor to a foster kid, and it certainly wasn’t one to me,” Cattanach says. “I can remember laying in my bunk bed at night and I had nine foster brothers and sisters over the course of two years and not once did I pray that they were Christian, or that they were Muslim, or that they were Jewish – I just wanted a forever home.”

The House vote sending the bill to the Texas Senate was 93 to 49 – mostly along party lines.

Storms could bring flooding to more homes on the Texas coast if carbon emissions continue unchecked.

That’s according to a new study from the non-partisan research and news organization Climate Central.

The study says climate change will lead to “exceptionally fast increases” in flooding risks for more than 30 cities within the next 30 years. Ninety cities could see more flooding by 2100.

“Galveston is definitely gonna be hit hard,” lead researcher Dr. Scott Kulp says.

By the end of the century, the study found 45 percent of Galveston’s homes will have a yearly risk of flooding.

Kulp says across the U.S., homes considered safe today will be increasingly threatened as sea levels rise.

“Very, very suddenly, instead of these areas being flooded once every 20 or 30 years, they’re going to be flooded every couple of years,” Kulp says.

Other coastal cities such as Texas City and Clute are also expected to see increased risks.

The number of Hispanic Texans who turned out to vote in the 2016 election only rose slightly from the 2012 election – at 40.5 percent compared to 38.8 percent.

The Texas Tribune reports the newly released census data reveals that while the participation of Hispanic voters grew – the turnout was lower than expected.