The third special session ended Tuesday without the passage of any education-related bills. Gov. Greg Abbott has called for another special session to begin immediately.
While two education bills made it out of the Senate at the beginning of the session, the House was mostly silent on education due to the speaker’s insistence that legislation outside the issues included in the governor’s stated special session agenda would not receive a committee hearing. HB 1 emerged late in the session as an omnibus education finance and voucher bill, with House leaders hoping to placate Abbott with a voucher plan he would accept, while enticing reluctant House members with much-needed teacher pay raises and improvements to the state’s education finance system.
Last Friday, House Public Education Committee Chair Brad Buckley announced the most recent draft of HB 1, which he said he intends to file as soon as the new session begins. With a bill ready to go for the first day of the fourth special session, the House could hear the bill in committee as early as this week and send it to the Senate in short order — if the votes are there.
Despite the apparent cooperation among state leaders to develop an agreed-upon plan, there is no guarantee that HB 1 is a done deal. A pocket of Republican resistance to vouchers in the House, combined with a near-united Democratic caucus opposed to vouchers, could still prove difficult to overcome.