As noted in other updates, floor action in the House and Senate is ramping up as committees are in their final weeks of hearing their own chambers’ bills (e.g., House committees hearing House bills). Bills that have not at least cleared a committee by this time will soon be running into deadlines that will eliminate their chances of passage.
We have noted some major bills that were considered on the floor this week (in particular, the House school safety bills and the teacher retention bills but several more education bills were considered on the House or Senate floor this week. Note that this is not a complete list of education bills that have passed.
Unless otherwise noted, these bills must still go through the other chamber’s committee process and floor action before heading to the governor’s desk.
- The only bill on this list that did not pass, HB 772 by Rep. Alma Allen would have prohibited corporal punishment in Texas public schools. It failed on a vote of 58-86.
- HB 2929 by Rep. JM Lozano is a bill that TCTA worked on extensively. It includes “clean-up” provisions for last session’s bill that reduced training requirements for teachers, in which TCTA had taken a leading role.
- SB 30 by Sen. Joan Huffman is the supplemental appropriations bill that revises budget expenditures for the current fiscal year (the main budget bill concerns the upcoming biennium). Having passed both the House and Senate in different forms, SB 30 will now go to a conference committee. Among the differences that the conference committee must address is the matter of funding for retiree benefit increases. The Senate proposes to partially fund its proposed increases with $1 billion in current-year funding, while the House is relying on funding in the main budget that also includes contribution increases by the state and active members.
- HB 63 by Rep. Valoree Swanson is a bill that TCTA has been concerned about as it will eliminate the ability of teachers and other “mandated reporters” (professionals who are required under law to report suspected child abuse or neglect) to file reports anonymously. The bill attempts to alleviate concerns by specifying the limited individuals who would have access to the name and contact information of the person filing the report, but TCTA and other groups remain concerned that the legislation will have a chilling effect on reporting.
- HB 964 by Rep. Jacey Jetton would add the offense of an inappropriate educator relationship with a student to the list of offenses requiring sex offender registration.
- HB 98 by Rep. Joe Moody would authorize districts to contract with a local mental health authority to provide mental health services on campuses, and would require the Health and Human Services Commission to allow districts to enroll as Medicaid providers and receive reimbursement for the provision of such services.
- HB 185 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez would require districts and charters to report through PEIMS the number of chronically absent students enrolled at each campus.
- SCR 28 by Sen. Joan Huffman (companion of HCR 20 by Rep. Abel Herrero) is headed to the governor’s desk. While not requiring congressional action, it is an expression of the Texas Legislature’s support for the repeal of the two provisions of federal law that affect Social Security benefits for Texas school employees — the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO).
- HB 3803 by Rep. Charles Cunningham would allow parents of students in grades 4-8 to have their child repeat a grade.
- HB 2209 by Rep. Lozano creates the Rural Pathway Excellence Partnership (R-PEP) program to support multi-district partnerships to expand opportunities for underserved students to succeed while also promoting economic development in rural areas.
- SB 2294 by Sen. Brandon Creighton expands the types of institutions of higher education that are eligible to participate in the early high school/Texas First scholarship program.
- SB 763 by Sen. Mayes Middleton allows districts to hire chaplains or allow chaplains as volunteers to provide “support, services and programs” as assigned by the school board (the original bill allowed their employment to perform counseling duties). It also requires each school board to take a vote regarding whether they intend to employ or allow volunteer chaplains for such purposes.
- SB 2407 by Sen. Kelly Hancock specifies that school marshal training must include training in neutralizing an active shooter.
- SB 1031 by Sen. Bob Hall prevents districts from conducting a survey or study on children’s sexual behavior.
- SB 2565 by Sen. Creighton is an extensive bill intended to, in part, reduce the time that teachers spend developing lesson plans by providing access to pre-written plans authorized by TEA. This approach has raised concerns of “C-SCOPE”-style uniformity in instruction, limiting teachers’ ability to tailor curricula to the needs of their students. The bill includes an alarming provision that will allow districts to encroach on teacher planning and preparation periods, making it permissible for districts to require teachers to spend planning and prep time on developing instructional materials, as long as their contract provides that the teacher is responsible for initial plan lesson plan design or instructional material selection.
- SB 410 by Sen. Angela Paxton would require that the health curriculum for grades 7 and 8 include instruction on the human reproductive process, prevention of birth defects, and a description of fetal development through the trimesters of pregnancy.
- SB 2368 by Sen. Donna Campbell requires districts to provide at least 185 days of instruction, effectively eliminating 4-day instructional weeks. However, floor amendments added to the bill exempt districts that have already moved to a 4-day week as of the 2022-23 school year, and also exempt districts with enrollment under 7,000 students.
- SB 2124 by Sen. Creighton is designed to facilitate enrollment in advanced middle school math courses leading to Algebra I in eighth grade. Districts will automatically enroll in advanced 6th grade math students who perform in the top 40 percent on the 5th grade math STAAR or a local measure; parents may opt their student out of the advanced course.
- SB 1144 by Sen. Bryan Hughes requires districts to consider whether enrollment in full-time virtual education is an appropriate alternative to expelling a student.