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.

 

After 2 a.m. Thursday morning the Texas Senate produced a bill tweaking but not fundamentally fixing the A-F  rating system for public schools slated for its first real use in the coming school year. The A-F grades for schools have been highly controversial in the minority of states where they have been adopted, and the Texas version had a rocky test run earlier this year when the Texas Education … (read more…)

The Senate’s attempt to force acceptance of a private-school voucher scheme by inserting it in a House school-finance bill suffered a major setback today. The House voted 134 to 15 against concurrence in the Senate changes to HB 21, the good school-finance bill by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston). Not only that, the House for good measure supported a motion to instruct House negotiators to reject the … (read more…)

The Texas House has finally passed a long-sought bill to notify parents when their child’s school lacks full-time nurse staffing. The vote on final passage of SB 196 by Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) was 80 to 63. Under a House floor amendment accepted by House author Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), the bill applies to school districts with 10,000 or more students. SB 196 still has to go back to … (read more…)

HB 21, a good school-finance bill as it left the House, has been turned into a voucher bill by the Texas Senate. Please tell your House member to reject this bill, which has been stripped of most of the House-passed school-funding increase and now has become primarily a … (read more…)

HB 21, a good school-finance bill as it left the House, has been turned into a voucher bill in the Texas Senate. That’s the bottom-line significance of the post-midnight vote of the Senate on HB 21 on May 22.  The vote was 21-10–pretty much the same margin by which another voucher bill passed in the Senate months ago.

That earlier voucher bill went nowhere in the House, never coming up for … (read more…)

–First Look at a State Budget Deal
–Voucher Bill on Senate Agenda for Vote Sunday Evening
–Transgender “Bathroom” Bill Returning as an Amendment?

First Look at a State Budget Deal:  A House-Senate conference committee on the state budget bill for the next two fiscal years came to an agreement at 1 a.m. Saturday night. … (read more…)

A series of critical deadlines will winnow the list of bills still in play at the state Capitol this weekend as the Legislature heads toward a mandatory adjournment on May 29. Look for Hotline updates over the weekend, as the House meets both Saturday and Sunday and the Senate convenes Sunday evening.

One key deadline comes Saturday night. Senate bills not approved and reported from House … (read more…)

One week ago Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) suddenly inserted a special-education voucher plan into HB 21, the important bill by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston) that would significantly increase school funding. Now Taylor’s Senate substitute for HB 21 could be voted on tomorrow, May 19, by the full Senate and sent back to the House as a take-it-or-leave-it bad deal. Before it returns to the House, … (read more…)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, presiding officer of the Texas Senate and self-styled “bold” leader, today threatened to block must-pass bills and force a special session of the Legislature if his own priorities are not enacted before the regular session ends May 29. Patrick devoted a morning press conference to blasting House Speaker Joe Straus for the House’s failure to pass the Senate’s … (read more…)

On less than a day’s’ notice the House Higher Education Committee will consider tomorrow a bill that would eliminate a key funding source for college financial aid for needy students. The bill is SB 18 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo). It would eliminate tuition set-asides that redirect a fraction of total tuition charges in order to provide much-needed financial help to low-income students. … (read more…)

The Coalition for Public Schools has a simple and direct answer to the Senate’s bad idea of inserting a voucher program into a good House bill on school funding. That answer is: “No!” The Coalition, in which Texas AFT joins with dozens of other education and children’s advocacy groups, delivered a letter to the entire Senate today announcing opposition to the Senate’s draft committee … (read more…)

SB 13, the Texas Senate bill to take away your freedom to have your organizational dues deducted from your paycheck, has been referred to the House State Affairs Committee for review. This bill by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) resembles legislation that deservedly died without coming to a vote in the House State Affairs Committee in 2015. You can help SB 13 meet that same deserved fate this … (read more…)

Improvements in funding for education and other children’s services have been proposed in the current legislative session, but the education budget remains unresolved as lawmakers work toward a May 29 adjournment. The issue right now is in the hands of ten House-Senate negotiators. They and their colleagues in both chambers need to hear a message from you now to support:

–the House proposal to … (read more…)

VoucherPoison2

This morning Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) suddenly inserted a special-education voucher plan into HB 21, the important bill by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston) that would significantly increase school funding. Taylor’s surprise substitute for HB 21 needs to be stripped of this voucher “poison pill” transferring public funds to private schools without accountability.

Opposition to this latest … (read more…)

A bill to promote the community-school model for turning around struggling campuses has been placed on the Texas House agenda for a possible vote on Thursday, May 11. HB 3861 by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) and Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) is pretty far down the list of bills eligible for a vote on the last day for House bills to pass on the House floor on second reading. It may not be … (read more…)

Many Bills Die at Deadline for House Committee Action:  On Monday, May 8, the arrival of a crucial deadline in the Texas House meant the death of a host of bills not yet passed and reported out from House committees. Among them was HB 510 by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston), the bill to take away the freedom of school employees and other public-sector workers to have their union or … (read more…)

With just three weeks to go in the 140-day regular session, big issues remain unresolved, including the shape of the 2018-19 state budget for public education and retiree health care. Texas AFT will convene our final Tele-Town Hall of the session on Thursday, May 11, at 5:30 pm. In the Tele-Town Hall you can anticipate an  update and status report on all the big issues, along with action steps … (read more…)

We are pleased to report another big win in the ongoing battle against the high-stakes misuse of “value-added” methodologies in teacher evaluations. Here’s our press release from earlier today announcing this major new development in federal district court in Houston:

A Thursday ruling in the federal lawsuit filed by the Houston Federation of Teachers … (read more…)

The Legislature this week passed and sent to the governor what may be the most radical state law in the nation conscripting local police as immigration-law enforcers. SB 4 by Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) gives local police discretion to check the immigration status of anyone they detain for any reason. It would impose criminal and civil penalties on local law-enforcement officials who fail … (read more…)

Nurse-Staffing Notification, Community Schools, Employee Decision-Making, Accountability Bills Gain Ground:  HB 1847 by Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), a good bill requiring parents to be notified when their child’s school does not have a school nurse available throughout the school day, won quick, unanimous approval in the House Public Education Committee yesterday. Strong … (read more…)

The TRS-Care health plan for retired school employees faces a funding shortfall of more than a billion dollars, and HB 3976 by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) is an attempt by the House to deal with that problem. The bill is due to be debated on the House floor Wednesday afternoon or evening, just like the accountability bill.

HB 397 would put non-Medicare-eligible retirees into a plan with a … (read more…)

HB 22 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston) is the main House bill on accountability this session. It is scheduled for a floor vote on Wednesday afternoon or evening, May 3.

The most important part of HB 22 would delay implementation of A-F school ratings until the 2019-20 school year, giving the Legislature one more regular session in 2019 to review and possibly replace this ill-advised … (read more…)

Send a letter to your legislators now!

Evidence of inferior educational performance by voucher-funded private schools is growing. The latest example is an official study by the U.S. Department of Education, finding that the … (read more…)

Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) won Senate passage Monday of SB 463, his bill to extend until September 2019 the state law allowing a student to graduate from high school without passing up to two end-of-course STAAR exams. Under this law, an individual graduation committee can be convened to determine whether the student has demonstrated proficiency in the subject by some other means, such as an … (read more…)

The Senate also this afternoon passed SB 196 by Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), a bill requiring parents to be notified when their child’s school lacks full-time nurse staffing. For good measure, the bill extends the same requirement to schools that lack full-time counselor or librarian staffing. The bill met with opposition on the floor from Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville), who objected that … (read more…)

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