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.

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.


Last year Linda Bridges, our late Texas AFT president, issued a prescient forecast of what we could face in the 2015 state legislative session. She wrote:

Public education in Texas is at a crossroads. Our schools and institutions of higher education are under relentless attack from corporate interests that seek to profit from the hostile takeover of public … (read more…)


In the Texas Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, Texas AFT and allies in the Texas Forward revenue coalition testified that the legislature needs to make sure unmet obligations are funded first before enacting a host of tax cuts that could well prove unaffordable. Tax-cut proponents also met resistance from assorted business groups that don’t like all the particulars of the $4.6 billion … (read more…)

Sometimes in the legislative process the turning points come early. That is the case right now in the Texas Senate, where Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is pushing to lock in $4.6 billion in new tax cuts, especially new tax breaks for businesses, before the neglected needs of Texas schoolchildren and educators can be considered in the state budget. Now some members of the Senate from both parties are … (read more…)

On Monday, March 2, the Texas House Appropriations subcommittee on education funding will be making preliminary decisions on funding for elementary, secondary, and higher education. Texas AFT will monitor the action and report significant developments.

On Tuesday, a subcommittee on educator quality of the House Public Education Committee will hear invited testimony on teacher appraisal and … (read more…)

The U.S. House leadership apparently misjudged just how much resistance there would be to its faulty legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind Act. On Friday, February 27, after two days of debate on a host of amendments to the bill (H.R. 5, misnamed the “Student Success Act”), it was abruptly withdrawn from consideration on the House floor. The bill encountered stout opposition from the … (read more…)

Texas AFT has partnered with Texas State University and the Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award to increase the opportunities that children have to engage with outstanding Mexican-American children’s literature.

We know that educators create amazing … (read more…)

On February 26 Rep. Dan Huberty, Republican of Humble, introduced a bill creating a new pre-kindergarten grant program. Huberty’s HB 4 would give additional pre-K funding to a school district or charter school that met certain quality criteria for its pre-K offerings. The bill’s single-digit number indicates that it is a House leadership priority. HB 4 is modeled after proposals by Gov. Greg … (read more…)

The U.S. House began debate Thursday on 44 amendments to the misnamed Student Success Act, a defective rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (better known in its most recent version as the No Child Left Behind Act). The debate continues on Friday. AFT’s team at the U.S. Capitol advises that we should all (read more…)

Texas AFT will host a Professional Issues Day on Saturday, June 13, during our biennial convention, and you’re invited to submit a workshop proposal. All workshops will take place at the Omni Colonnade in San Antonio.

This is your day to highlight best practices and also collaborate and learn with colleagues from throughout the state. Each presenter will receive a $300 stipend for the … (read more…)

The chair of the Texas House Appropriations Committee announced Wednesday that his committee would “fully fund” health care for retired school employees for the next two years. The statement from Rep. John Otto, Republican of Dayton, was the strongest indication yet that at least one chamber of the legislature wants to protect retirees enrolled in the TRS-Care health plan from increases in … (read more…)

Texas AFT welcomed the filing Wednesday of two bipartisan bills—HB 1891 and HB 1892 by Democratic Rep. Eddie Rodriguez of Austin and Republican Rep. Marsha Farney of Georgetown—that would foster the creation of “Community Schools” as a proven tool for school improvement, especially at struggling campuses.

Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro said:

These … (read more…)

The spending priorities of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick were on clear display Tuesday, and thus far the neglected needs of Texas schoolchildren are not on the list. At two press conferences, Lt. Gov. Patrick (who presides over the state Senate) and allied senators touted legislation that would grab $4.6 billion for tax breaks and claim upwards of $5 billion per biennium, in perpetuity, for highway funds. … (read more…)

Instead of finally just fixing what’s wrong with the No Child Left Behind Act—the most recent version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—the U.S. House of Representatives is considering a bill that actually would do new harm to American public education.

The House is poised to vote this week on a measure inappropriately named the Student Success Act. This bill walks … (read more…)

On February 20 Texas AFT testified before a key House budget-writing subcommittee in support of the funding increases needed for public education and education employees in Texas. On February 23 that same panel, the House Appropriations subcommittee on education funding, will hear from us again on the funding needs of community colleges.

Also on February 23 the House Pensions Committee will … (read more…)

We have another encouraging development to report in our fight for increased state funding of school employees’ health plans. Sen. Jose Rodriguez, Democrat of El Paso, has filed a Senate companion bill, SB 659, for the bill by Democratic state Rep. Cesar Blanco of El Paso to double the state’s contribution for all active school employees’ health insurance to $150 per employee per month from … (read more…)

State Rep. Cesar Blanco, a freshman Democrat from El Paso, has filed a bill (HB 1597) to double the state’s financial contribution to help all school employees pay premiums for the health insurance offered through their district. The state contribution has been stuck at $75 per employee per month for a dozen years, while health-care costs have risen and the premiums paid by many school employees … (read more…)

Visit the Save Texas Schools registration site to find out about the upcoming Austin conference and workshops put on by our friends at Save Texas Schools. This effective statewide coalition is focused on critical challenges facing Texas public schools in the 2015 legislative session: … (read more…)

Texas AFT was pleased to support in the Senate Education Committee today an important bill allowing students to bypass high-stakes end-of-course exams by demonstrating their subject-matter proficiency in other ways approved by an individual graduation committee. The bill is SB 149 by Sen. Kel Seliger, Republican of Amarillo. His proposal would let a committee made up of the student’s teacher, … (read more…)

A bill by Sen. Kel Seliger, Republican of Amarillo, would allow students to graduate without passing state-mandated,  standardized end-of-course exams if they can meet other requirements set by a special committee, including the teacher of the course or courses in question and the student’s counselor. Seliger’s SB 149 comes up for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee at its first … (read more…)

Sen. Kelly Hancock, Republican of North Richland Hills, on February 18 filed a pre-kindergarten voucher bill, under which school districts would be compelled to pay private pre-K providers for enrolling students whose parents prefer private schooling for their preschooler. The bill is SB 623. It is not the first voucher bill of the session, and probably also not the last, but it is the first to … (read more…)

San Antonio voters in a special runoff election on February 17 promoted Democratic state Rep. Jose Menendez to the Texas Senate. In the runoff Menendez overtook the front-runner in the first round of balloting, fellow Democratic state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, who had the support of Texas AFT and our local affiliates. Both Menendez and Martinez Fischer have compiled strong voting records as … (read more…)

Gov. Greg Abbott gave a “state of the state” speech and put out a budget proposal today that left much to be desired. Responding to the governor’s education budget and policy ideas, Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro offered him some advice: “There are no shortcuts to great schools—investing in what works will help Texas become the best.”

In a statement to the press, President … (read more…)

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, the Republican from Killeen who chairs the full House Public Education Committee, today named a five-member subcommittee on teacher quality that is likely to consider the role of standardized state achievement tests in teacher evaluation. The subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Dan Huberty, Republican of Humble, with Democrat Joe Deshotel of Beaumont as vice-chair. The … (read more…)

In testimony today before the House Appropriations subcommittee on education funding, Texas AFT legislative spokesman Ted Melina Raab renewed our call to restore tuition scholarships for educational aides who need financial aid to pursue a college degree leading to teacher certification. Melina Raab noted that the program was a highly successful “grow-your-own-teachers” strategy for Texas … (read more…)

While some at the state capitol have floated the idea of shifting the rising cost of retiree health care onto the backs of retirees themselves, Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro suggested a better idea in an (read more…)

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