As of today, over 1,300 bills have been filed by Texas legislators for the upcoming session, starting in January. Among them are bills that align with our Respect Agenda and could be hugely important to educators and students:
- HB 882 by Donna Howard (D-Austin) would significantly increase the basic allotment for public school funding and would link annual increases to the Consumer Price Index to ensure that schools have the resources teachers and students need.
- SB 109/HB 332 by José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) and Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) would provide Teacher Retirement System retirees with a much-needed, one-time cost-of-living adjustment.
- HB 31 by Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) & HB 135 by Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) would require that public schools be funded based on enrollment, instead of attendance. This is an important change because 300,000 students are undercounted when attendance-based funding is used. Enrollment-based funding is much more accurate and would account for the number of students actually served.
- HB 97 by Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) would walk back some of the censorship rules placed on teachers and students during the last legislative session.
Meanwhile, there are bills to watch out for, including several that would encourage more privatization at the expense of local public schools:
- HB 557 by Vasut (R-Angleton ), HB 619 by Shaheen (R-Plano), and SB 176 by Middleton (R-Galveston) are various forms of voucher bills that have one thing in common: diverting taxpayer dollars away from real public schools.
- HB 983 by Rep. Terri Leo-Wilson (R-Galveston) would remove the only local control that elected officials have to determine where charter schools are built or located. This bill would give charter schools a free pass to avoid local oversight even though charters do not have elected boards, do not need voter approval for new buildings, and do not hold local meetings to determine where best to build for the community, the way real public schools do.
Stay tuned to the Hotline for weekly updates on bills to watch. You can follow bills that have already been filed and set up bill alerts at the Texas Legislature Online.