TRS bill moves forward on a frenetic Friday
Date Posted: 5/17/2013 | Author: Jennifer Mitchell, CAE
After a rough start earlier today, the Texas House acted on important pieces of education-related legislation this afternoon. Most notably, the House approved Senate Bill (SB) 1458—the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) bill—on second reading by a unanimous vote. The bill's author, Sen. Robert Duncan (R–Lubbock), and House sponsor, Rep. Bill Callegari (R–Katy), acknowledged the role of education stakeholders in the negotiations. ATPE is pleased that the bill is one step closer to passage, putting TRS on the road to actuarial soundness. The bill also promises a long-awaited benefit increase for retirees. As expected, Callegari amended the TRS bill on the floor to expand the scope of SB 1458's proposed cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase for retirees. The COLA will now cover all those who retired in 2004 or earlier, which is a substantial increase from the original proposal that would have covered only those who have been retired for at least 20 years. Earlier today, it was unclear whether any action would occur on the TRS bill or other pieces of legislation that were scheduled to be heard in the House. Numerous members of the House complained that the Senate was not cooperating through not moving House bills forward, and some representatives openly threatened to kill many of the Senate bills pending in the House in retribution for the perceived inaction in the upper chamber. Progress was made on the impasse, however, and after several delays and behind-the-scenes conversations, the House quickened the pace of business this afternoon. SB 2 and the budget Prior to hearing the TRS bill, the House also voted to approve SB 2—the charter bill—on third reading. That bill will presumably head to a conference committee that will be tasked to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the charter reform measure. Now that the House has completed its work on the charter bill, education stakeholders and parent advocates will be closely watching the Senate to see any movement on HB 5, the bill that would overhaul student testing and graduation requirements. The House has selected its members of the HB 5 conference committee, but the Senate has not yet done the same. House and Senate budget negotiators also appear to have reached a deal on the appropriations bill; the agreement reportedly calls for $3.93 billion for public education. Stay tuned for updates and continue to follow @TeachtheVote on Twitter for the latest developments.
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