Last week we reported on the House's proposal for vouchers, school funding, and teacher salaries, House Bill 1. According to media reports, Gov. Greg Abbott indicated that the bill differs from what the governor’s office had negotiated with the House leadership team, and as of Oct. 26, he has not yet expanded the agenda for the special session to include school funding and salaries.
House Speaker Dade Phelan has not referred House Bill 1 to a committee (a precursor to the scheduling of a committee hearing), nor has he referred the Senate bill on school funding and salaries. SB 2, creating an education savings account/voucher program was referred to the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment. The refusal to refer HB 1 and SB 1 to a committee continues precedent set in previous sessions that bills not included in the governor's agenda for a special session will not be referred.
Negotiations continue behind the scenes, but so far this week there has been no activity on education issues. Instead, the House has addressed other items on the special session agenda — border security and prohibitions on COVID vaccine mandates.
The 30-day special session will end Nov. 7 or when the House and Senate both adjourn "sine die" — whichever comes first. There have been various rumors on when Gov. Abbott might call another special session if the current one ends without the legislature addressing vouchers, ranging from immediately after the current one to sometime in February 2024.