Teach the Vote's Week in Review: March 12, 2021
Texas Legislature Congress | Federal COVID-19 Privatization | Vouchers
Date Posted: 3/12/2021 | Author: Andrea Chevalier
Here’s a summary of the week’s legislative developments from Austin to Washington, D.C., from the ATPE Governmental Relations staff.
- FEDERAL UPDATE: American Rescue Plan Act signed into law
- LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Bill filing deadline, hearings of interest, and a new state rep
- CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Texas expanding vaccine access to adults 50 and older
FEDERAL UPDATE: President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act into law this week. The federal legislation is expected to send Texas over $12 billion for emergency COVID-19 relief for public education, with 90% of that going directly to school districts. Within the bill, the allowable uses for the funding include improvements to school facilities, mental health supports, and the purchase of technology. Districts will also have to use at least 20% of the funds on learning recovery efforts. For a detailed look on what the American Rescue Plan Act means for schools, read this blog post by ATPE Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Mitchell.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Today is the last day Texas legislators can file bills, and there are 80 days left in this legislative session. The Senate Education Committee is expected to hold its first meeting next week, although the committee has not posted an agenda yet.
The House Public Education Committee met Tuesday to hear bills related to academics and school safety. ATPE opposed a bill requiring school districts to allow home-school students to participate in UIL activities. We supported a bill to add students who enlist in the Texas National Guard into the criteria for the college, career, and military readiness outcomes bonus created last session. Read more about the bills heard by the committee this week in this blog post by ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier. The committee has posted this agenda for its next hearing, Tuesday, March 16.
The education community was pleased that a pandemic-related bill heard in the House State Affairs Committee this week will not contain a voucher provision, as it did when originally filed. The bill’s author, Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), heeded advice from education stakeholders, including ATPE, in removing from his House Bill 3 the language that would have forced school districts to send public dollars to private entities. There are other voucher bills in the pipeline, so educators must stay vigilant. Read more about the HB 3 hearing in this blog post by ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.
Finally, Rep. David Spiller (R-Jacksboro) was sworn into office this week at the Texas Capitol. Spiller won a special election last month to fill the Texas House District 68 seat formerly held by Sen. Drew Springer. He is a former school board member for Jacksboro ISD.
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Starting Monday, March 15, Texans aged 50 and older will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine as phase 1C of the vaccine rollout begins. Education and child care personnel became eligible for the vaccine last week. For more information on the vaccine and how to get it, click here. Also, be sure to check out ATPE’s recently updated COVID-19 FAQs and Resources for educators.
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