Texas House Bill 684, which contains a measure known as Sam’s Law, appeared before the Senate Education Committee Tuesday, April 30, for consideration before it could be allowed onto the Senate floor for a vote.
Sam’s Law, named after Kilgore student Sam Watkins, who died in December 2016 after suffering a seizure, is intended to mandate seizure response and recognition training at public schools throughout Texas.
“We got a unanimously favorable vote, all green lights, at the Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday, April 16,” said Shari Dudo, epilepsy advocate, former teacher and founder of the Purple Warriors of Texas epilepsy advocacy group.
“Now we are on the Senate side. It’s been referred to the education committee.”
Dudo founded the group and was inspired to create Sam’s Law after experiencing a tonic-clonic seizure at age 51. She never had any signs of epilepsy prior to her seizure and, as a former teacher, became concerned for students who might face a similar experience. She reached out to Barbara Watkins, Sam’s mother, and House Rep. Travis Clardy to create Sam’s Law.
Dudo has been traveling to the state capital to help the bill become law.
“It goes to the education committee and we will testify. There will probably be about five or six of us. One will be a teacher. We had a student testify last time and they also want to me to testify.”
The bill has received a very favorable response in Austin so far but the hard work is not over yet.
“It goes to the education committee and then they vote it out of committee or vote against it and it would die. Every step is critical.”
Still, Dudo is hopeful for success in the committee.
“We fully expect them to vote it out of committee. It’ll go to the floor of the Senate and if we get a favorable result in the Senate, it’ll go to the governor’s desk for him to sign. Because the House unanimously voted for it, that sends a strong message to the Senate,” Dudo said, but added she did not want to assume an automatic “yes” vote from the committee because, as she’s learned over the past months “politics is tricky.”