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.

You may sign up for the e-mail list here.

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.

 

While the details of the U.S. Senate bill are being hidden as if they were state secrets, one thing is clear: Working families will lose if the bill passes. Like the House AHCA, the Senate plan strips health care from 23 million Americans. The secret Senate plan strips access to care and opens the cost floodgates for health-care consumers–whether it’s a special-needs student who suffers because … (read more…)

Gov. Greg Abbott on June 15 vetoed a good bill providing for notice to parents when their child’s school lacks full-time staffing by a school nurse or nurses. SB 196 by Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) was a simple measure designed to protect children’s health by enabling parents to anticipate and make arrangements to address gaps in expected health-care coverage at school–especially important for … (read more…)

AFT President Randi Weingarten has a question for you:  How would your school and your community fare under the budget cuts in education proposed by President Trump?

Some context:  The 2018 budget proposed by President Trump and Secretary DeVos is manifestly cruel to kids. It is catastrophic to the public schools our most vulnerable and at-risk students attend—and a windfall for those who … (read more…)

Gov. Greg Abbott has until Sunday, June 18, to sign bills from the regular session into law, let them take effect without his signature, or veto them. Thus far since the session ended May 29 he has vetoed only a handful of line items within the state’s two-year budget bill for 2018-19, SB 1. Meanwhile Abbott has started signing in bunches some of the 1,285 bills sent to his desk as the deadline … (read more…)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick talks about end of session issues on May 17, 2017

A recent, hard-hitting article from Fort Bend ISD board president Kristin Tassin tells how a poison pill administered by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick killed a good school-finance bill, HB 21 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), in the regular session of the Texas Legislature … (read more…)

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While we have been fighting anti-public-school proposals in the Texas Legislature, there’s mischief afoot in the nation’s capital that demands our attention as well. President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have proposed an education budget that makes it clear they are out to get public education. In their quest to disinvest in public services and destabilize our public … (read more…)

Under HB 3976 as passed last month by the Texas Legislature, significant changes will occur next year in the health-care options available to TRS retirees. The governor has not yet acted on HB 3976, but on June 2 the Teacher Retirement System of Texas trustees went ahead and adopted new premium rates and benefits for the retiree health-care programs that they administer, along with the active … (read more…)

 

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday afternoon that he is calling the Texas Legislature back into session on July 18, first and foremost to enact what he termed a must-pass “sunset” bill continuing the existence of the state medical board, but after that to consider 19 other disparate items on his legislative wish list. A special session can go on for a maximum of 30 days, though the … (read more…)

While impasses engineered by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on school finance and other matters dominated the headlines, the legislative session just ended did see some little-noted progress on other issues of importance to parents and education employees. For example:

Special education—SB 1398 by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville) and Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) will scale back the … (read more…)
TrumpBudgetMap

We all know that the Trump budget includes devastating cuts to public education, healthcare and public services. With the AFT’s new interactive map, you can easily see exactly how much funding each state can expect to lose in all three areas. For Texas, the losses are particularly sobering. For example, our state would lose $106 … (read more…)

AFT has partnered with the Badass Teachers Association to conduct a national survey that will further examine how educators’ working conditions affect their health and well-being. Response to a prior survey made it clear that we needed to probe further to understand the challenges educators face. AFT’s intent is to use the results to address these issues and to fight for programs and policies … (read more…)

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The Texas House and Senate have ended their 140-day regular session on this Memorial Day with the possibility of a special session very much in play. Gov. Greg Abbott said today that he will announce later this week whether and when to call a special session–a matter that is entirely within his discretion. He noted that all of his emergency priorities had passed:  Child Protective Services … (read more…)

The 2018-19 state budget was approved Saturday by votes of 30 to 1 in the Texas Senate and 135 to 14 in the House. It amounts to a missed opportunity to improve funding for public schools as well as other vital public services.

The bill, SB 1, keeps per-pupil funding at the current level but reduces the state share of funding and relies on local property taxes to fill the gap. With … (read more…)

Eva DeLuna Castro, a top-flight budget analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, has just published a clear-eyed assessment of what the proposed state budget for 2018-19 in SB 1 will and will not do. Here’s the lowdown:

The Texas Senate and House of Representatives have agreed on a … (read more…)

The Texas House and Senate have been busy today naming conference committees to iron out differences on important education issues while beginning a series of key votes on the state budget.

Accountability and testing are the subjects of negotiations on two major House bills, HB 22 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston) and HB 515 by Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston). In brief, the House versions of … (read more…)

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…)

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