Today marks the last day to file bills for the current legislative session. This week alone, more than 1,000 bills were filed. Of the bills filed this week, several are considered “priority” legislation, meaning that they have the approval of the lieutenant governor or the speaker of the House. These priority bills, many of which relate to public education, are likely to move through the legislative process quickly.
Many of these bills are very detailed and comprehensive, proposing key changes to several important policies. These priority bills certainly are not guaranteed to pass, and even if they do, they likely will be amended from their current versions. In future Hotlines, we will look more in depth at this priority legislation, but a few of those priority education bills include:
HB 3 by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), which would require an armed guard to be located on every public school campus and would reorganize the Texas School Safety Center.
HB 11 by Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston), which would provide teachers with a pay increase and comprehensively reform the educator certification system. HB 11 would remove the elected State Board of Education’s (SBOE) veto authority over rules made by the appointed State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC). HB 11 would slightly increase the school funding via the basic allotment.
HB 100 by Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian), which would require that public schools be funded based on enrollment, instead of attendance, for most allotments. The bill would also increase special education funding.
HB 600 by Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), which would provide retired educators with a TRS cost-of-living adjustment. The TRS COLA would be tiered, so longer-retired individuals, who have had inflation reduce the buying power of their pension more, would benefit from a larger adjustment. The bill would also increase employee contributions to TRS. TRS retirees older than 70 would receive a one-time supplemental check of $5,000. TRS would also create a system for providing ongoing automatic COLAs, depending on whether the pension fund meets investment goals.
In addition to these priority bills, lots of other education bills have been popping up. Here are a few of our recent favorites:
HB 1814 by Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) would establish a special education certificate, under which educators would complete coursework and an examination to become certified in teaching special education.
HB 2160 by Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) would require at least one full-time equivalent mental health professional at public law schools in Texas.
HB 2939 by Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) would bar school districts from exempting themselves from class-size limits in their District of Innovation plans.
HB 4571 by Rep. John Bucy (D-Austin) would address student hunger at postsecondary educational institutions by establishing a hunger-free campus program, creating contracts with food vendors, and allowing certain students to be eligible for SNAP benefits.
SB 1733 by Sen. Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas) would establish a housing assistance pilot program to provide junior college students with need-based grants to assist with the cost of maintaining housing.