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Teach the Vote's Week in Review: Feb. 19, 2021

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

School Finance Texas Legislature Elections TEA | Commissioner | SBOE Miscellaneous

Date Posted: 2/19/2021

Like many schools and businesses in Texas, the ATPE state office was forced to close this week due to the massive winter storm and related utility outages. Here's an abbreviated look at some of this week's education headlines:

As temperatures rise and Texans dig out from this catastrophic winter storm, ATPE wants you to be aware of some important information and resources for educators:

  • The Teacher Retirement System (TRS) has information on its website regarding emergency prescription refills as well as toll-free phone numbers for medical and prescription questions under TRS-ActiveCare, TRS-Care Standard, and TRS-Care Medicare plans.
  • The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has shared important tips for documenting any damage to your home and avoiding fraudulent repairs.

ATPE's thoughts and prayers are with our members and their families during this stressful time.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has released guidance for school districts affected by the winter storm. Earlier this week it appeared that schools would be allowed only three missed days without need for makeup days because of the storm. New guidance from the agency indicates schools will be given additional flexibility for days missed, as many schools continue to struggle with power outages, a loss of water, unstable internet connections, and other extended setbacks related to the storm. Schools that are able to provide virtual instruction only or may be forced to shut down completely for a period of time may apply for waivers from the state. View the February 18 updated guidance from TEA here.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) announced the week his appointments to chair subcommittees within the powerful House Appropriations Committee. The committee is one of the two state legislative committees tasked with writing the state's budget each legislative session.

Rep. Terry Wilson (R-Marble Falls) will chair the Subcommittee on Article III, which contains the state's education budget. Other subcommittee chairs include Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint) for the Subcommittee on Articles I, IV, and V; Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller) for the Subcommittee on Article II; and Rep. Armando Walle (D-Houston) for the Subcommittee on Articles VI, VII, and VIII. Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia) will chair a Subcommittee on Strategic Fiscal Reserves and Federal Relief Funds.

The House Appropriations Committee and its Senate Finance Committee counterpart in the upper chamber are both meeting next week to consider the public education budget for the next two years. Find links to view the upcoming hearings here.
Despite the effects of the storm, there is still a special runoff election underway in Texas House District (HD) 68. Two candidates, David Spiller (R-Jacksboro) and Craig Carter (R-Nocona), are vying to fill the open House seat formerly held by Sen. Drew Springer. Early voting ends today (Friday), and the HD 68 election will be held Tuesday, February 23. Find more information about the election from the Texas Secretary of State's office here.
ATPE at the Virtual Capitol, originally slated for February 21, has been rescheduled to Sunday, February 28, 2021. This means ATPE members have a few days left to register for the event, which will feature advocacy training, issue presentations by ATPE's lobby team, and discussions with educators and legislators, including House Public Education Committee Chairman Harold Dutton. CPE credit will be available, and sessions can be viewed on-demand by registered attendees after the event.

Learn more about ATPE at the Virtual Capitol and register for the event here.


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