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.

 

With their new rosters in place, the House Public Education Committee and House Higher Education Committee have slated their first meetings of the 2017 session for Tuesday and Wednesday next week, respectively. Texas AFT will keep close tabs on both as bills of interest to our members come up before these two legislative panels.

Here’s the roster of state representatives on the House Public … (read more…)

Continuing our focus on the budget-writing process, which is where most of the early action is under way in the Texas Legislature, today we highlight two new subcommittees that will lead the drafting efforts in the state House and Senate on education funding.

In the House, the so-called Article III subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee was formed today with jurisdiction over pre-K/12 … (read more…)

SB 13, the misbegotten bill by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) to take away your right to voluntary payroll deduction of your organizational dues, was passed by Huffman’s Senate State Affairs Committee Thursday. The vote was six to two, with one senator absent.

This discriminatory bill would outlaw payroll deduction for some categories of public employees (e.g., teachers and other school … (read more…)

The one must-pass bill in the current legislative session is the budget, which holds the key to equitable and adequate funding of public pre-K/12 and higher education. Now that House committees have been named by Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), the House Appropriations Committee has been quick to start its hearings on the drafting of a budget for fiscal 2018 and 2019. Texans who hope, as we … (read more…)

danpatrick

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has put passage of a private-school voucher bill in the mix for his top legislative priorities this session. The key bill on that agenda is SB 3 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), which would create so-called education savings accounts and tuition tax credits to funnel scarce taxpayer dollars to unaccountable private-school operators, all in the name of “parental … (read more…)

Enforcing U.S. immigration laws is the job of the federal government, not state or local officials, and the feds cannot compel local law-enforcement officers to serve as immigration agents. However, that has not prevented repeated efforts in the Texas Legislature to conscript local police, as a matter of state law, to aid the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in identifying and … (read more…)

devosvote

Breaking: Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced that they will vote NO on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos.
Your senator could cast the vote to block DeVos. On Wednesday, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced that they will vote NO on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education. Better yet, … (read more…)

By constitutional design, the Texas governorship is a comparatively weak executive position, with only modest direct authority to govern the state. But one power the governor does have is to designate certain legislation as an emergency item, eligible for early action during the biennial legislative session. And today Gov. Greg Abbott exercised that authority to designate four topics as … (read more…)

patrickvouchers

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a state Capitol press conference Monday afternoon to roll out his latest onslaught against public schools. We refer to Senate Bill 3, a private-school  voucher bill that Patrick has entrusted to Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), chair of the Senate Education Committee. The bill would create so-called education savings accounts and tuition tax credits to funnel scarce … (read more…)

On January 31 Gov. Greg Abbott will give his State of the State address to a joint session of the Texas House and Senate, outlining his priorities and likely designating matters he considers emergencies, a step that allows the Legislature to vote on them within the first 60 days of the session (i.e., before March 11). Likeliest to be so designated by Abbott is SB 4, the so-called “sanctuary … (read more…)

In her hearing before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on January 17, Betsy DeVos proved just how unqualified she is to serve as secretary of education. In response, millions of Americans contacted their senators urging them to vote “no” on her confirmation. We have to keep up the pressure.

At the hearing, DeVos couldn’t answer basic questions, dodged … (read more…)

The Senate Education Committee and the overlapping Senate Finance workgroup on school finance held a four-hour hearing Friday to consider a wide spectrum of views on fixes needed in what all agree is a school-funding distribution system in serious need of renovation. Senate Education chair Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, had a message for all the witnesses, preemptively declaring that the Senate will … (read more…)

Marathon hearings on funding for higher education have been under way in the state Senate Finance Committee Wednesday and Thursday. Texas AFT and allies in these hearings are making the case for key programs that enhance educational opportunities in both preK-12 and higher education.

A highlight of Wednesday evening’s testimony came when representatives of the Texas Association for … (read more…)

An initial hearing of the Senate Finance Committee’s newly created workgroup on school finance will occur on Friday, January 27, at 9:15 a.m. at the state Capitol. The workgroup and full Senate Education Committee will hear testimony jointly at that time, after a brief organizational meeting of the Education Committee. The school-finance hearing will include invited witnesses only. At this … (read more…)

Education Funding

In the face of a state Senate budget draft that would actually reduce state general-purpose revenue for public schools by $2.2 billion, Texas AFT legislative counsel Patty Quinzi testified Tuesday in support of a progressive alternative. Here is what she said to the Senate Finance Committee:

The Legislature is beginning the 2018-2019 budget cycle with an estimated … (read more…)

Today pro-voucher forces, joined by Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, rallied at the state Capitol in support of legislation that would undermine public education by transferring state taxpayer dollars to private schools subject to minimal if not zero academic and financial accountability. Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro commented:

When the governor and … (read more…)

The Senate Finance Committee, which will write the Senate version of the state budget for fiscal years 2018-19, began formal hearings Monday with an overview of a first draft of Senate Bill 1 that would provide $8 billion less for public services than the House proposes. The Senate budget draft would provide $2.2 billion less in general-purpose revenue for public education than the House version. … (read more…)

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(For more news and photos, see: http://www.aft.org/news/thousands-send-message-trump-inauguration-eve)

Tens of thousands of parents, teachers, students and community members took action in more than 200 cities and towns across the country Jan. 19 as part of the #ReclaimOurSchools National Day of … (read more…)

The Senate’s presiding officer, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, announced committee assignments Wednesday, including significant changes in the roster of the Senate Education Committee. Patrick eliminated from the committee two stalwart supporters of public education, Sens. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) and Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), and he enlarged the Republican majority, leaving the committee with eight … (read more…)

We already knew that Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, would be a problem for America’s schoolchildren. She has used her vast wealth to drive for privatization of K-12 education and has fought efforts to hold private operators accountable for the quality of their publicly funded educational services in her home state of Michigan, despite their inferior track … (read more…)

dayofaction

Texas AFT members will take part in a “National Day of Action” Thursday, January 19, as part of a nationwide series of events sponsored by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools . Activists across the nation will stand together to:

  • Demand that our schools and campuses be safe places free from the threat of racism and … (read more…)
STAAR-logo

In 2015 the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 149 as a two-year experiment to allow students to graduate from high school based on an assessment of their whole body of work, not their inability to pass one or two of the state’s standardized end-of-course exams (the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR). The bill has offered a chance for thousands of students to graduate … (read more…)

minimum_wage

Texas lawmakers, strongly backed by Texas AFT and other affiliates of the Texas AFL-CIO, are pushing to increase the minimum wage for Texans in all walks of life with a bevy of bills filed in the 2017 legislative session that began January 10. The drive to raise Texans’ pay is the focus of a Texas AFL-CIO press conference at the Capitol set for January 12 with some of those legislators and also … (read more…)

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