About 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 three days to spare before the current legislative session ends June 1, the Texas House and Senate gave final approval Friday to the state budget for 2016-17. This two-year budget bill, HB 1, is really the only must-pass bill of the session, and it also is perhaps the most revealing of legislative priorities.

Judging by this budget, the top priorities this session plainly were tax cuts and … (read more…)

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Many of the most important education policy debates of the 2015 legislative session remain to be decided over the weekend. By Saturday at midnight, all the bills that are currently being negotiated in the back rooms of the capitol must be printed in their final form and distributed to all the members of the House and Senate. Final votes must then be taken in both chambers by midnight Sunday. … (read more…)

Three bad Senate amendments to House Bill 1842 would resurrect failed bills aiming to privatize schools and nullify state safeguards of educational quality like class-size limits. (read more…)

Both chambers of the Texas legislature now have passed versions of HB 2, the supplemental appropriations bill, which includes $768 million to cover the projected shortfall in funding for the TRS-Care health plan for retired school employees for fiscal years 2016-17. Once enacted, this infusion means that retirees, active school employees, and school districts almost certainly will not be asked to … (read more…)

The two-year influx of state funding under HB 2 does not solve the chronic underfunding of TRS-Care for the long term. The legislature has never provided secure and adequate funding streams for TRS-Care, preferring to enact short-term fixes since the program’s inception as a stopgap measure in the 1980s. Hence under HB 2974 by Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) there would be an interim study by a joint … (read more…)

Guns on campus: Close to the midnight deadline for passage of Senate bills in the Texas House on second reading, House members voted Tuesday to let concealed-handgun license holders bear their weapons on college campuses. House amendments made the bill applicable to private as well as public institutions of higher education but inapplicable to … (read more…)

By midnight Tuesday, Senate bills in the Texas House will die unless they have received initial approval on the House floor (second reading). By midnight Wednesday, May 27, all Senate bills in the House are dead unless they have won final approval (third reading).  Wednesday also is the last day for the Senate to consider all bills on … (read more…)

Now it is official—SB 1968 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) is dead. The last House calendar for floor action this session on Senate bills has been set, and this ill-conceived bill to take away voluntary payroll deduction of dues from most public employees never made it to the House Calendars Committee for consideration.Vigilance is still in order against any possible attempt to amend this … (read more…)

SB 1241 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) died without further action in the House Calendars Committee Sunday night.  Below is key information Texas AFT has shared with legislators in opposition to the bill; we are on watch against any attempt to resurrect it as an amendment to other legislation:
In the name of fostering “innovation,” SB 1241 enables and … (read more…)

As a practical matter, SB 1968, the bill in the Texas legislature to take away your right to voluntary payroll deduction of dues for your chosen organization, appears to be a goner as of tonight. As an official matter, it will be left for dead unless can be reported favorably from committee and placed by 10 pm tomorrow on the last House calendar for Senate bills to be considered on the House … (read more…)

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The strong message of opposition to SB 1968—the bill to outlaw voluntary payroll deduction of most public employees’ organizational dues—seems to be getting through. There was no attempt to move the bill out of the House State Affairs Committee Friday, and … (read more…)

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SB 1968, the bill to ban voluntary payroll deduction of organization dues for nearly all public employees in Texas, ran into a serious obstacle at the state capitol on Thursday. That obstacle was a (read more…)

A partial budget agreement announced by state House and Senate negotiators Wednesday afternoon reflected misplaced priorities on the biggest items at issue, but there was one bright spot.
First, the bad news:  The House appeared to accept the Senate’s position on formula aid for school districts, which was well short of the overall increase proposed by the House … (read more…)

Stop the State from Messing with Your Paycheck: Urge Lawmakers to Oppose SB 1968
Some state politicians in Austin want to take away the freedom of teachers, school support personnel, and nearly all state and local public employees to make voluntary payments from their earnings, via safe and secure payroll dues deduction, to the employee organizations of their … (read more…)

The state Senate voted 20 to 11 on May 7 to ban voluntary payroll deduction of dues by most public employees, including all those employed by school districts. Now the bill is in the House State Affairs Committee. Members of that committee need to hear from you—NOW–in opposition to … (read more…)

This session’s “virtual voucher” bill, SB 894 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), has yet to come up for a vote in the Texas Senate. The bill would provide taxpayer funding for privately operated online schools with minimal accountability or quality assurance.
Also not voted on Tuesday was SB 1900 by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), which would entitle … (read more…)

Two bad education-policy bills backed by big money met with stout resistance from witnesses in a House Public Education Committee hearing at the state capitol on Tuesday.  SB 14 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) concerns a so-called “parent trigger” for control of public schools by alternate managers, such as charter-management companies. The second controversial bill, SB 1241—also … (read more…)

The Texas House Public Education Committee on Tuesday is planning to hear SB 14, a bill by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) that would speed up the timeline for a parent petition triggering alternative management of a campus. In California the prototype for this bill has been the vehicle for well-funded efforts by outside interests to get parent signatures on petitions for charter takeover … (read more…)

The much-criticized Pearson testing company has had sole responsibility for running the state testing system (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR) over the past five years at a price to taxpayers in excess of $450 million. Monday the Texas Education Agency announced that the British-based firm will lose more than 80 percent of the STAAR contract over the next four … (read more…)

SB 894, the bill by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) to fund full-time online instruction at state expense for students who never have to set foot in a public school, will not be voted on in the Texas Senate Tuesday. The bill was on Monday’s agenda but was not brought up for a vote. Part of the reason, we suspect, is the grass-roots opposition expressed in many e-mails and calls by folks like … (read more…)

An expensive new entitlement program for charter schools is back on the calendar for possible consideration Tuesday. SB 1900 by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) would entitle charter schools to $427 million in facilities funding over the next two years.
Under the legislative compromise that created charter schools in Texas in 1995, they have never been eligible … (read more…)

It’s hard to know what is really happening in budget negotiations between the Texas House and Texas Senate, because all the meaningful action is occurring behind closed doors. Judging by the out-front posturing, however, education funding is not one of the major issues occupying the attention of the negotiators.
The focus, by all accounts, is on whose version of tax … (read more…)

The Texas House gave final approval Friday, May 15, to a bill proposing a proven, effective strategy for school improvement—one that builds up the services and supports students need in and out of school to be successful academically. That is the community-school model, and the bipartisan bill to make it the preferred option for turnaround of struggling schools is HB 1891 by Rep. Eddie … (read more…)

The Texas House on Friday also approved on third reading and sent to the Senate HB 2804 by Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen), containing a mandate to switch the state’s accountability ratings to an A-F scheme effective September 2017. The real debate on this proposal occurred Thursday night as Democrats and Republicans alike warned that the A-F grading system will not spur achievement gains but … (read more…)

SB 894 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), the bill to provide full-time online instruction at public expense for home-schooled and private-school students–with minimal public accountability and minimal quality assurance–was on the calendar Friday but was never brought up for a vote.
The bill has no House counterpart, and deadlines are looming for Senate bills to … (read more…)

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