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House interim charges released

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 5/09/2024 | Author: Tricia Cave

Speaker Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont) announced 68 interim charges for Texas House committees Wednesday, almost a month after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) released charges for the Senate.   

In a statement announcing the charges, Phelan did not name any specific Speaker priorities, nor did he give a deadline for committee reports on the charges.  Instead, he touted the House’s conservative achievements under his leadership and said his interim charges were meant to “set the foundation for House committees to gather insight from stakeholders and interested Texans, identify legislative solutions for our most pressing issues, and make recommendations to the full House chamber for consideration next session.”   

The House Public Education Committee received four interim charges: 

  • The first charge involves monitoring implementation of previously passed legislation, including HB 1605 by Chairman Brad Buckley (R–Salado), which incentivizes the use of SBOE-approved High Quality Instructional Materials (HQIM); HB 2209 by Rep. J.M. Lozano (R–Kingsville), which created the Rural Pathway Excellence Partnership program; and SB 2124 by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe), which creates an advanced math pathway in middle school that is meant to increase participation in high school advanced math courses.  
  • The second charge is based on Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) ongoing push for a voucher. It directs the committee to “consider issues and matters to increase educational opportunities in Texas to ensure that students and families have increased options to attend a high-quality school, regardless of circumstance.”  The charge also asks the committee to study education savings account programs in other states and make recommendations for such a program in Texas, including eligibility and prioritization criteria.  This is following the work of the Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment last summer, also chaired by Rep. Buckley, which had a similar charge and issued a report that was careful not to fully recommend vouchers. This item comes as no surprise, given Gov. Abbott has continued his push for and focus on vouchers through election season, campaigning against and funding challengers to Republican candidates who he saw as disloyal to him on the issue of school vouchers, despite the public's lack of interest in passing such legislation.  
  • The third charge deals with studying the impact of the increasing number of uncertified educators in Texas, their impact on student outcomes, and making recommendations for ways to get those teachers certified as well as how to increase parental rights and notifications related to uncertified educators teaching their children. As previously reported on Teach the Vote, a combination of increased numbers of Districts of Innovation, as well as a teacher vacancy crisis in recent years, has led to a sharp increase in the numbers of uncertified educators in the state.  
  • The final charge tasks the committee with studying ways to increase early literacy and numeracy, including identifying students in need of intervention and good intervention strategies.  

In addition to the charges given to the House Public Education committee, several other committees were given interim charges related to public education.   

  • The House Committee on Appropriations will be studying cross-article funding streams, specifically including the School Health and Resource Program (SHARS).  They will consider where these programs best fit and how they are best funded, as well as increasing transparency and accountability between agencies. SHARS allows school districts to be reimbursed for special services provided to students through Medicaid, and it has recently been in the news because of unexpected cuts to the program by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to the tune of $300 million, leaving districts scrambling to recover funds in a year already plagued by deficits.   
  • The House Committee on Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services will be monitoring the impact of SB 10 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R–Houston), which provided a one-time stipend to retirees as well as a COLA.  
  • The House Committee on Ways and Means will monitor the impact of HJR 2 by Rep. Will Metcalf (R–Conroe) and SB2 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–Houston), which provided property tax relief to homeowners last session, as well as study “whether Texas’ economic performance and sales tax revenues support further compression of school district tax rates.” 
  • The House Committee on Youth Health and Safety will be monitoring the impact of school safety legislation from last session, including HB 3 by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock), which requires armed guards on every school campus; and HB 18 by Rep. Shelby Slawson (R–Stephenville), which is aimed at protecting students from data collection and online algorithms and allows for parental opt-outs.  They will also be studying barriers to access for students with behavioral health needs.  

It is important to note that interim charges do not always lead to legislation but do provide us with an idea of the priorities of each chamber. As always, ATPE will be heavily involved in the discussions on these topics and will provide updates on Teach the Vote.  


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