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.

 

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June 21 was the deadline for Gov. Greg Abbott to sign bills, veto them, or let them take effect without his signature. Abbott vetoed a total of 42 bills and a number of line items in the state budget by the deadline. One veto of an education bill was especially noteworthy.

That bill was SB 313 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), which would have required the State Board of Education to review and … (read more…)

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We are pleased to report that the budget bill signed by Gov. Abbott on June 20 will restore funding at long last for the program of tuition scholarships for educational aides who enroll in college courses to become teachers. This highly successful and effective program, whose budget was cut to zero in 2011, will receive an infusion of $1.5 million over the 2016-2017 biennium. Credit for getting … (read more…)

The Hotline will take a holiday from now through July 5, with occasional exceptions. For instance, you can expect a Hotline message to cover any vetoes by Gov. Greg Abbott affecting public education and education employees. His deadline to veto, sign, or just allow bills to become law is June 21. … (read more…)

Members from the San Antonio Alliance for Teachers and Support Personnel

At the three-day Texas AFT convention in San Antonio that concluded Sunday, June 14, delegates elected as the state federation’s new secretary-treasurer Ray McMurrey, the president of Corpus Christi AFT. McMurrey won a two-year term to serve as Texas AFT’s second-in-command alongside President Louis Malfaro.

Common themes connected President Malfaro’s “State of the Union” address on … (read more…)

Let’s make our victory against Fast Track permanent! Call Congress at 202-224-3121 to cement last week’s victory against the job-killing Fast Track and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Last Friday, a dramatic 126-to-302 vote defeated a key part of the Fast Track package known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). This was a great victory led by working families against an array of TPP … (read more…)

Score one for grass-roots democracy. This afternoon the U.S. House, under intense pressure from citizen activists like you, emphatically rejected a key piece of the proposed Fast Track legislation that would have limited congressional debate and allowed no amendments to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a job-killing trade and investment deal that would ship American jobs to … (read more…)

Yesterday we reported on the proposal from the Teacher Retirement System board’s benefits committee that called for closing the top TRS-ActiveCare plan, ActiveCare 2, to new entrants for plan year 2016, beginning this fall. The proposal came forward without advance notice, and it could have started the ActiveCare 2 plan on the road to a complete shutdown.Texas AFT legislative spokesman Ted … (read more…)

The biennial Texas AFT convention got under way in San Antonio Friday afternoon, and delegates from across Texas quickly settled one question, electing Louis Malfaro president for a full two-year term, by acclamation. Malfaro was tapped to step up from the role of secretary-treasurer of Texas AFT in January, when the union’s executive council appointed him to fill the remainder of President … (read more…)

The Teacher Retirement System board of trustees will meet Friday to consider proposed health-care rates and benefits for the 2016 plan year for both retired and active school employees. Committee action today already gives us a clear picture of what’s envisioned. For retirees, the news is good; for active employees, it is not. In both cases, the news is a function of budget decisions that … (read more…)

On Friday, June 12, the U.S. House is scheduled to vote on a so-called Fast Track bill that would force Congress to take a straight up-or-down, take-it-or-leave-it vote on the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, with only limited debate and with no amendments allowed. It is a Fast Track to a bad deal. The TPP would help corporations move jobs out of the U.S. to low-wage countries where … (read more…)

What on earth does something called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have to do with Texas school employees and their families? A lot more than you might think—and you can do something about it, because the power to stop this anti-worker, anti-consumer international deal is in the hands of your representatives in the U.S. House this week.

The TPP is a proposed trade and investment deal … (read more…)

Our legislative recap continues today with a list of ten bad bills that bit the dust in the session ending just last Monday. There were far more than ten in this category of bad bills that failed, but these were among the most noteworthy:

SB 1968 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would have taken away the freedom of all education employees and nearly all other state and local public employees in … (read more…)

Not all the legislature’s moves this session on standardized testing were headed in the right direction (of which more in the next Hotline or two). But lawmakers did make significant inroads against the misuse and overuse of state testing and test-driven sanctions in a number of bills. Please take note, though, that most education bills are still awaiting action by Gov. Greg Abbott, who has … (read more…)

Previous Hotline messages have covered the disappointing two-year budget plan adopted by the legislature, which doesn’t increase aid to school districts enough to maintain their per-pupil funding in terms of real, inflation-adjusted purchasing power.

The next step for the budget before it goes to the governor is required certification by the comptroller that the state has the money to pay for … (read more…)

The 84th regular session of the Texas legislature ended Monday shortly after mid-day. Here’s how Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro sized up the session in a press release Monday afternoon:

Legislature falls short (way short) on public education funding

At the beginning of the year there was a lot of talk from state leaders about prioritizing efforts to improve … (read more…)

SB 11, the so-called “campus carry” bill by Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), authorizing individuals with concealed-handgun licenses to bring their firearms on college campuses, passed on Sunday in the Texas House and Senate. The controversial bill, opposed by Texas AFT, many other educators, and law-enforcement officials as a policy move that will make colleges less safe, was amended … (read more…)

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HB 1842, a major bill altering school-turnaround policy, was loaded up with three bad amendments on the Senate floor after midnight last Tuesday aiming to privatize schools and nullify state safeguards of educational quality like class-size caps. We are pleased to report that two of those “zombie” amendments, based on bills that had already died in the House, are dead again as of … (read more…)

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…)

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…)

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