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Mid-week update

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 5/15/2013 | Author: Jennifer Mitchell, CAE

It’s been relatively quiet at the state capitol this week with regards to education-related issues—but it’s frequently calmest just before the storm. Read on for an update on where the most significant items stand.  Teacher Retirement System bill to be heard Friday, May 17 The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill (SB) 1458 by Senate State Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Robert Duncan (R–Lubbock) May 8. The bill calls for making the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) actuarially sound and granting retirees a cost-of-living adjustment by implementing several changes, including requiring educators with less than five years of TRS service credit to reach age 62 before becoming eligible for full retirement benefits. It also calls for raising state and active member contribution rates and creating a new employer contribution at the district level. The bill was quickly passed out of the House Pensions Committee May 10. The bill is scheduled to be heard on the House floor as early as Friday. Word is that a slew of amendments will be proposed. If any changes are made, the bill could end up in a conference committee made up of House and Senate members, who will work out the differences between the Senate and House versions. SB 2 (aka the charter bill) SB 2 by Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Dan Patrick (R–Houston) is scheduled to be heard on the House floor tomorrow, Thursday, May 16. The bill calls for raising the cap on the number of charters the state may issue from 215 to 305 incrementally over the next six years. It would also give the state the authority to close charter schools after three years of poor performance. The House Public Education Committee substituted its version of the bill before passing it May 10. The substitute version of the bill, by Committee Chairman Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R–Killeen) makes several improvements, but ATPE is still concerned about quality control and the Texas Education Agency’s oversight of the charter school program. House Bill 5 House Bill (HB) 5, also by Aycock, calls for making sweeping changes in testing and graduation requirements for public schools. The bill was amended in the Senate and the House refused to concur with the proposed changes, so the bill will be hammered out in a conference committee. The House named its conferees May 10; Aycock will chair. The rest of the conferees are:

  • Rep. Dan Huberty (R–Houston)
  • Rep. Joe Deshotel (D–Beaumont)
  • Rep. Larry Gonzales (R–Round Rock)
  • Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D–Austin)
The Senate has not yet named its conferees. Budget A conference committee has been wrangling over the state budget since late April. Unofficial word is that a deal has been struck to restore about $3 billion of the $5.4 billion in public education budget cuts passed last session. Further changes may also be necessary for TRS depending on the outcome of negotiations on SB 1458. Stay tuned for updates.  


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