capitol-e14108033083241About the Texas AFT Legislative Hotline

The Texas AFT Legislative Hotline is published by e-mail and to this site each business weekday (and some holidays and weekends when important news justifies a post) by the staff at the Texas American Federation of Teachers.

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Hotlines from August 20, 2010 to present may be found on the main site through the month links on the right navigation bar, or by using the search field.

Hotlines before that day may be found here.


Despite the big House majority vote (103 to 44) against any form of voucher funding in SB 1, the budget bill, two voucher bills will get a hearing on Thursday in the House Public Education Committee.  Both bills—HB 1335 by Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) and HB 4193, also by Simmons—focus on special-education students. In other states, special-ed vouchers have been the gateway to … (read more…)

Extreme politicians in the Texas Legislature are determined to weaken the power of working people. They’re pushing special interest-backed legislation that would make it harder for working families to make ends meet.

We believe everyone deserves a fair shot to get ahead, which is why we’ve joined other labor partners in Texas to form the Fair Shot Texas Coalition. Together, we represent … (read more…)

Special-ed Vouchers to Get a Hearing in House Committee:  Despite the big House majority vote (103 to 44) against any form of voucher funding in SB 1, the budget bill, the House Public Education Committee will give a hearing to two voucher bills on Thursday, April 27.

Both bills are by Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) and both are focused on special-education students. HB 1335 … (read more…)

State Board Approves Evidence-Based Science Standards:  For the first time in years, state standards for science instruction will be free of loaded language inserted to promote a creationist critique of the science behind the theory of evolution. That’s the upshot of a debate and vote at the State Board of Education this week, in which a bipartisan majority (prominently including … (read more…)

Increased School Aid Wins Overwhelming Vote in Texas House:  The big school-finance bill of the 2017 session,  HB 21 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), was approved by an overwhelming margin of 134 to 16 Wednesday night after hours of debate on amendments but with no major changes. Texas AFT supported the bill, which would provide an infusion of an additional $1.8 billion or more … (read more…)


Josh McGee, a prominent critic of guaranteed retirement benefits for public employees, will now be chairing the State Pension Review Board, thanks to a two-thirds vote in the Texas Senate Thursday. McGee’s appointment by Gov. Greg Abbott was snagged for weeks because of grass-roots opposition that translated into a blocking minority of 11 senators depriving McGee of the required two-thirds support … (read more…)

Texas AFT testified Monday on a newly unveiled House proposal to address the funding shortfall for TRS-Care, the state program affording health coverage to retired school employees. HB 3976 by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) is a considerable improvement over the Senate plan in SB 788 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston). Under HB 3976 the deductible for pre-Medicare retirees would be $3,000, versus … (read more…)

HB 21, the bill by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston) to revise school-finance formulas and increase school aid to districts, comes to the House floor Wednesday. Some 46 proposed amendments to the bill have been pre-filed as of 5 p.m. today. Texas AFT supported the bill in committee and supports it as it comes to the floor. We will be on watch for troublesome amendments but open to changes that could … (read more…)

As the Legislature takes a break until Monday for the Easter/Passover holiday, there’s news to report on a number of bills of importance to education employees. With just 46 days left in the 2017 regular session, some major bills are on the move, while some others are not.

Educator misconduct:  SB 7, the bill by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) to crack down on employees … (read more…)


SB 193 and HB 3861 would give a struggling campus more time to meet state requirements if a community-school initiative is developed and implemented. Last session similar bills drew strong bipartisan support, passing in the House and passing unanimously in Senate committee. Tell your legislators to … (read more…)

On a busy day in state House and Senate education committees, we want to highlight one issue in particular raised by companion bills in both chambers. SB 1278 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) and HB 2924 by Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) reflect the agenda of private, for-profit educator-preparation programs calling for lower standards of entry into the teaching profession. Texas AFT strongly … (read more…)

HB 895 by Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) would remove a longstanding cap on the expansion of full-time “virtual” schools. The bill, which is up for a hearing in the House Public Education Committee Tuesday, would deliver big benefits to private, for-profit operators, but it offers little or no educational benefit for Texas schoolchildren.

There is a place for online learning as a complement to … (read more…)

Two late but welcome additions to the committee agenda for Tuesday are SB 463 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) and SB 1854 by Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio). The Seliger bill would make permanent last session’s temporary program allowing students to graduate without having to pass up to two state end-of-course assessments, as long as an individual graduation committee finds the student has … (read more…)

As early as Tuesday the Senate may vote on SB 788, the bill by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) that cuts benefits and raises costs for TRS-Care recipients who are not yet eligible for Medicare. While Medicare-eligible retirees may face higher costs, too, they at least would be assured under the bill of a decent level of coverage under a Medicare Advantage plan. Not so the retirees who have yet to … (read more…)


Now that the House has passed its own version of the state budget in place of the Senate’s in SB 1, time-honored ritual requires the Senate to reject the House effort, triggering appointment of a conference committee to iron out the differences. Though news reports have emphasized differences between the two versions that are many and real, the two sides are just about half a billion dollars … (read more…)

The House Public Education Committee on Tuesday voted unanimously to revise and roll back the simplistic A-F school-rating scheme enacted in 2015. The bipartisan unanimity for HB 22 bodes well for the ratings rollback in the full House.

HB 22 as approved in committee delays the first use of the A-F rating system until the 2019-2020 school year. Through 2018-2019 the existing rating system would … (read more…)

A big thank-you is in order for those of you who have written and called your Texas House members in opposition to private-school vouchers, because today your efforts paid off. Early in the House floor debate on the 2018-2019 state budget bill, a bipartisan anti-voucher amendment was adopted by a vote of 103 to 44.

Authors of the amendment were Reps. Abel Herrero (D-Corpus Christi) and Gary … (read more…)


The fight against diversion of scarce taxpayer dollars from the public schools to unaccountable private schools enters a new phase at the state Capitol this week. The voucher fight will play out as part of the state House budget debate coming up on Thursday, April 6.

Two bad House amendments to advance Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s voucher schemes must be rejected emphatically by the Texas House. The … (read more…)

More than 400 proposed amendments to the House budget bill for 2018-2019 have been pre-filed. The bill is the House Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 1, or CSSB 1. Rules require that any proposed increase in spending must be offset by a cut elsewhere in the budget. Battles over the amendments will be joined on the House floor on Thursday, April 6.

We’ll highlight some of the key amendments, … (read more…)

House Plan for State Budget Coming to a Vote April 6:  The House is scheduled to vote on its version of the 2018-19 budget bill, SB 1, on April 6. Also set to be voted on that day is the supplemental spending bill for fiscal 2017, HB 2. Pre-filing of amendments to the budget bills must occur by 10 am Monday, and we’ll be spending part of the day sifting through proposed … (read more…)


Promoting Private-School Vouchers: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wanted to get his pet private-school voucher program through the state Senate Thursday in the worst way, and he got what he wanted–one of the worst bills to come out of the Senate in the 2017 session. To get the votes needed to bring the bill up for Senate action, he had to shrink it to fit the demand of many reluctant … (read more…)


By a vote of 20 to 11, the Texas Senate gave preliminary approval Wednesday to an attack on the freedom of teachers and nearly all school employees to spend their own money as they please. The bill in question, SB 13 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), would prohibit voluntary payroll deduction of professional-organization dues by all school employees except law-enforcement officers. The bill also … (read more…)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is pressing hard for passage of a private-school voucher bill, SB 3, this week in the Texas Senate where he presides. The latest word is that he and bill author Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) are cooking up a substitute, to be unveiled with minimal advance notice on the Senate floor, for the version of the bill that was passed in committee. Pursuing this hide-the-ball … (read more…)

All the signs at the state Capitol today pointed in the same direction:  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the state Senate, is pressing hard for a vote of the full Senate as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, March 29, on two of his worst proposals. One of them, SB 3 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), is a voucher bill that would use public funds to subsidize unaccountable private schools. … (read more…)


Two of the worst bills of the 2017 session of the Texas Legislature could be voted on in the Texas Senate as early as this Wednesday, March 29. One would drain taxpayer dollars from public education to give away subsidies to private schools with no accountability. This voucher bill is SB 3 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood). The other part of this dual attack is SB 13 by Sen. … (read more…)

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