/CMSApp/TTV/media/Blog/TTV%20logos%20and%20thumbnails/ttv_capitol.jpg?ext=.jpg /CMSApp/TTV/media/Blog/TTV%20logos%20and%20thumbnails/ttv_capitol.jpg?ext=.jpg

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: June 16, 2023

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

School Finance Retirement | TRS | Social Security Texas Legislature Congress | Federal Curriculum | Instruction Privatization | Vouchers School Safety Educator Compensation | Benefits Testing | Accountability

Date Posted: 6/16/2023

The ATPE Governmental Relations team recaps the past week’s education news, legislative and election updates, and regulatory developments.

Sparring over property tax legislation in the current special session continues between Gov. Greg Abbott (R)/the House and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), with the latest escalation being the governor’s retaliatory vetoing of several Senate bills. Public education news also made headlines with the formation of a House select committee and prominent bill signings. 

VOUCHERS: Speaker Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont) announced Monday the formation of a new House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment to study “educational opportunity,” “meaningfully supporting public educators and educational institutions,” and “modernizing assessment and accountability measures.” The announcement came at the same time Gov. Greg Abbott (R) reiterated his intention of calling another special session of the Legislature to pass a private school voucher bill and promised future legislation would look much like House Bill (HB) 100 as it came out of the Senate during the regular session. ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins recaps the announcement and shares which lawmakers will serve on the select committee in this blog post. In a statement, ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes cautioned the House against tying vouchers, teacher pay, and testing together: “We saw during the regular session how strongly public educators feel about not tying these issues together and about hasty legislative proposals being crafted without their input or a thorough vetting. These tactics are a nonstarter, and nothing has changed in the past few weeks.” The Texas Tribune included Holmes’ statement in its coverage.  

BILL SIGNINGS: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed several education bills this week, including four he said were based on “empowering parents” as decision makers in their children’s education, as well as an omnibus school safety bill. On Monday, Abbott signed House Bill (HB) 1605 by House Public Education Committee Chair Brad Buckley (R–Salado), which creates a state-approved optional curriculum; HB 1926 by Rep. Lacey Hull (R–Houston), removes the expiration date of the Supplemental Special Education Services (SSES) program; HB 3803 by Rep. Charles Cunningham (R–Kingwood), which expands the rights of parents to decide if their child should retake a course or grade; and HB 900 by Rep. Jared Patterson (R–Frisco), an omnibus school library bill that allows parents more access and control with regard to library materials checked out by their children. The law requires that vendors rate materials sold to school libraries and label questionable material as “sexually relevant” or “sexually explicit.” ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave has more details in this blog post. On Wednesday, Abbott signed House Bill (HB) 3 by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock), which was the final school safety bill and combined elements of two other bills: HB 13 by Rep. Ken King (R–Canadian) and SB 11 by Sen. Robert Nichols (R–Jacksonville). The bill includes a provision for an armed officer at every campus, as well as $330 million in additional school safety funding. 

Abbott also signed SB 10 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R–Houston) into law this week. The ATPE-supported legislation gives retirees 70–74 a one-time stipend of $2,400, while retirees 75 and older will receive $7,500. These stipends are expected to be paid in September 2023. Additionally, if the constitutional amendment provided for under HJR 2 by Rep. Greg Bonnen (R–Friendswood) is passed by voters this November, retirees will receive a cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) in an amount based on their date of retirement. Pending voter approval, those who retired between Sept. 1, 2013, and Aug. 31, 2020, will receive a 2% COLA; those who retired between Sept. 1, 2001, and Aug. 31, 2013, a 4% COLA; and those who retired on or before Aug. 31, 2001, a 6% COLA. 

SCHOOL FINANCE: Rural superintendents are sounding the alarm about pending financial shortfalls following the Legislature’s inaction on school finance during the regular session. ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins was interviewed by KXAN News on this topic: “Our students need access to great teachers, and if school districts can’t afford to hire and pay great teachers, then it’s our students who are missing out,” he said. “The Legislature had 140 days to address school funding and to increase teacher pay or to address the staffing crisis and decided not to.” 

TEXAS MONTHLY BEST AND WORST LIST: Texas Monthly released its eagerly awaited “2023: Best and Worst Legislators” list this week. Public education issues drove many of the selections, including that of “Best” legislators Rep. Ernest Bailes (R–Shepherd), for calling out “backroom, shady dealings” in a rushed attempt to bring vouchers to the House floor, and Sen. Robert Nichols (R–Jacksonville), for being the only Senate Republican to vote against vouchers. 

TITLE IX: Interim Texas Attorney General John Scott sued the Biden administration over its interpretation of Title IX, arguing that Texas schools are at risk of losing federal funding if they follow state law. In 2021, the Biden administration said that Title IX, which protects people from sex-based discrimination in educational programs and activities, also applies to LGBTQ students, which conflicts with a bill passed by the Texas Legislature that same year. The Texas Tribune has more on this story. 

JUNETEENTH: On the ATPE Blog, we look at the history of Juneteenth, including the story of Texas educator Opal Lee, whose fierce advocacy paved the way for the occasion (long celebrated in Texas) to become a federal holiday. Juneteenth marks the anniversary of the date news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Texas, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the document ending slavery. 



James Settless

Did HB 1416 get signed by the governor? Does it reduce the number of hours for HB 4545?

Thank you for submitting your comment.
Oops, an unexpected error occurred! Please refresh the page and try again.