Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: March 31, 2023
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Date Posted: 3/31/2023
The ATPE Governmental Relations team recaps the past week’s education news, legislative and election updates, and regulatory developments.
- Voucher bill advances in Texas Senate
- House committee considers school safety bills the same day as Nashville private school shooting
- How do the House and Senate differ on TRS legislation? Check out ATPE’s side-by-side comparison
- House Public Education Committee discusses virtual schools and more
- Senate Education Committee considers virtual school and curriculum bills
VOUCHERS: The Texas Senate Education Committee voted this week to advance Senate Bill (SB) 8 by Chairman Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), which is Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s priority voucher bill. The party line vote Tuesday of 10 Republicans in favor and two Democrats opposed came after a marathon hearing last week in which more than a thousand people registered positions on voucher legislation, mostly in opposition. SB 8 could be scheduled for debate by the full Senate as soon as next week.
Elsewhere, rural Republicans killed a similar voucher bill this week in the Georgia House of Representatives. Concerns over vouchers’ negative impact on public education outweighed heavy lobbying by the state’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a universal school voucher bill Monday that makes all Florida students eligible for vouchers. DeSantis is widely considered a likely Republican candidate for president. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has often followed DeSantis’ lead and attempted to replicate his policy maneuvers in Texas.
SCHOOL SAFETY: On Monday, the same day as a shooting at a private school in Nashville, Tennessee, in which three children and three adults were killed, the Texas House Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety heard several bills intended to address school shootings in the wake of the Uvalde massacre. ATPE submitted testimony recommending clarifications to House Bill (HB) 3 by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock), which would require each public school campus to employ an armed security guard, which could be a police officer, a school resource officer, a commissioned security officer, a school marshal, or an armed employee who has received specific training. Learn more about this bill and others in this blog post by ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.
RETIREMENT: Senate Bill (SB) 10 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R–Fort Bend), the Senate’s primary TRS legislation, passed out of the Senate Wednesday on a 31-0 vote. The bill will now head to the House for consideration. Meanwhile, the House's primary TRS legislation, House Bill (HB) 600 by Rep. Greg Bonnen (R–Friendswood), was unanimously voted out of committee. The bill will now head to the Calendars Committee and then on to the House floor. ATPE has created a side-by-side comparison of the two bills.
HOUSE PUBLIC EDUCATION: Tuesday’s lengthy House Public Education Committee agenda included virtual education, cameras in classrooms, and the State Board of Education (SBOE) veto threshold for charter applications. ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave recapped the meeting in this blog post, which includes a list of bills on which ATPE took a position.
SENATE EDUCATION: On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee considered bills related to virtual schools and curriculum issues. ATPE submitted testimony against Senate Bill (SB) 1861 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–Houston), which is intended to implement the recommendations of the Texas Commission on Virtual Instruction, as well as testimony against SB 2089 by Chairman Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe), which includes a list of criteria and prohibitions for instructional materials. ATPE also opposed SB 13 by Sen. Angela Paxton (R–McKinney), which would implement rules regarding school district library materials and catalogs. ATPE submitted neutral testimony on SB 2565 by Creighton, which seeks to create lists of high-quality instructional materials approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and SBOE that meet TEKS curriculum standards. Find out more in this post by ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.
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