Early Filing of Bills Begins for 2011 State Legislature

State lawmakers in Texas are allowed to get a head start on the next legislative session by prefiling bills, and prefiling season opened today for the session beginning in January. Hundreds of bills were dropped in the legislative hopper in both House and Senate, including some notably bad and good ones. Texas AFT will keep you informed of the most notable prefiled bills from now through the start of the session on January 11.

One of the bad ones filed today is a private-school voucher bill that would drain taxpayer funds from the public schools. The bill is SB 157 by Sen. Tommy Williams, Republican of The Woodlands, under which public funds would be transferred to private schools for the education of students with disabilities.

Another dubious bill is SB 127 by Sen. Dan Patrick, Republican of Houston, which would expand the number of state-approved charter schools (which despite their attendant hype generally have performed less well than traditional public schools) without sufficient quality control.

On the plus side we note the filing today of a bill providing for full-day pre-kindergarten. That bill is HB 133 by Democratic Rep. Mike Villarreal of San Antonio. Also on the positive side of the ledger we welcome today’s filing of SB 87 by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., Democrat of Brownsville, which would provide professional development institutes with stipends for teachers and paraprofessionals who deal with students with disabilities, especially those with autism, and want up-to-date, research-based training to help them do this work more effectively.