June 9, 2023- Texas Lawmakers for months have been on track to use millions to continue distributing child identification kits to Texas schoolchildren.
In April the Texas House and Senate both approved preliminary budgets that included money for the National Child Identification Program’s Kits.
However, investigations into the company quickly discovered that the there was no evidence that the kits helped locate children at all less than a month after investigations began. Upon this discovery lawmakers quietly pulled funding.
It was also found that the Waco-based company that distributes the kits had been using exaggerated statistics as it sought contracts in Texas and other states. The investigation also revealed that Kenny Hansmire, a former NFL player who leads the company, has had several fail businesses, had millions of dollars in outstanding federal tax liens and previously had been barred from some finance related businesses in Connecticut by banking regulators because of his role in an alleged scheme to defraud or mislead investors.
A 2021 law states that the Texas Education Agency, Who is in charge of purchasing the kits, Is not required to continue providing them if the legislature stops the funding. In a statement, a spokesperson said that the agency isn’t aware of any “alternative funding sources for the program.”
Texas lawmakers were among the first in the nation to enshrine into law a requirement that the state purchase the kits. The kits contain an inkpad and a piece of paper where parents can record their children’s physical attributes, fingerprints and DNA. Parents can store the form in their homes and present it to law enforcement if their child goes missing.
In April 2021, state Sen. Donna Campbell, the New Braunfels Republican who authored the law, said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Hansmire had brought her the legislation.
The legislature allocated roughly $5.7 million to purchase kits despite numerous government agencies and nonprofit providing similar kits for free or a lower cost. The envelopes contained the claim that 800,000 children go missing every year. Experts say the figure, which is based on a 1999 study, is inflated and out-of-date in part because it includes hundreds of thousands of children who were reported missing for benign reasons like coming home later than expected.
Hansmire previously told the news outlets that his company’s messaging has shifted away from what he called the “historically high” number of missing children.