Texas Senate committee advances ATPE-backed sick leave legislation
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Date Posted: 4/29/2021 | Author: Mark Wiggins
A divided Senate Education Committee voted Wednesday, April 28, to advance an ATPE-supported bill that would grant public school employees access to sick leave pools.
ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins testified in support of Senate Bill (SB) 1792 by Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) at a hearing by the committee Tuesday, April 27. Wiggins said the bill would offer a cost-neutral way of providing additional sick leave days to school employees who need them.
Meeting after the Senate’s floor session on Wednesday, the committee advanced SB 1792 on a vote of 6-3. Chairman Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) and Sens. Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville), Angela Paxton (R-McKinney), Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio), Beverly Powell (D-Burleson), and West voted in favor of the bill. Sens. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), and Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) voted against the bill, with Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) present but not voting.
The committee also advanced the following bills before recessing:
- SB 123 (committee substitute) by Sen. Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas), which would add social and emotional skills to the requirement that the State Board of Education (SBOE) integrate character traits into the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). The committee substitute changed the terminology from “social and emotional” to “personal” skills. ATPE supports this bill, which passed by a vote of 10-0 and was recommended for placement on the Senate’s local and uncontested calendar.
- SB 168 (committee substitute) by Sen. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso), which would require districts and charter schools to adopt a policy on active shooter drills before conducting one. Each policy must prohibit realistic simulations and surprise simulations. ATPE supports this bill, which advanced on a 9-1 vote with Sen. Paxton voting no.
- SB 180 by Sen. Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville), an ATPE-supported bill that would require the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) to propose rules specifying what each educator is expected to know with regard to educating students with disabilities. The bill passed by a vote of 10-0 and was recommended for the local and uncontested calendar.
- SB 348 (committee substitute) by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), which would entitle a parent to observe any virtual instruction and review any teaching materials, instructional materials, or other teaching aids provided to their child for virtual or remote learning. The bill passed unanimously and was recommended for the local and uncontested calendar.
- SB 998 (committee substitute) by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), which would allow a county with a population of less than 55,000 people to order an election to revoke the county equalization tax. The bill passed unanimously and was recommended for the local and uncontested calendar.
- SB 1082 by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), which would specifically include curriculum materials used in any human sexuality instruction under the statute entitling a parent to review teaching materials. The bill would eliminate any implied discretion under existing statutes and treat this curriculum the same as any other. The bill was passed unanimously and recommended for the local and uncontested calendar.
- SB 325 by Sen. West, which would provide mental health services and mental health education to students at school-based health centers. ATPE supports this bill, which relates to one of our 2021 legislative priorities. The bill passed by a 6-4 vote with Sens. Bettencourt, Hughes, Paxton, and Perry voting against it.
- SB 2023 (committee substitute) by Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson), which would create a tutoring program facilitated by local consortia of school districts or charter schools, EPPs, and other contracting organizations. The program would be open to current and retired teachers, paraprofessionals, teacher’s aides, post-secondary students enrolled in an EPP, and recent EPP graduates. It would target hard-to-staff and high-need schools and provide grant money that could be used to pay tutors, purchase instructional materials, and secure internet access and devices. The bill passed unanimously.
- SB 2081 (committee substitute) by Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio), which would require prekindergarten classes to adhere to the class-size cap of 22 students. ATPE supports this bill, which passed by a 9-1 vote with Sen. Hall voting no.
- SB 1171 (committee substitute) by Chairman Taylor, which would provide grant funding to help schools with the mandatory transition to online administration of STAAR tests. The bill was passed by a unanimous vote of 9-0 and recommended for the local and uncontested calendar.
- SB 1232 (committee substitute) by Chairman Taylor, which would move management of the permanent school fund (PSF) from SBOE to a new body made up of three SBOE appointees, one appointee from the General Land Office (GLO), and three gubernatorial appointees chosen from a list of individuals jointly nominated by SBOE and GLO. The bill advanced on a unanimous vote.
- SB 1444 (committee substitute) by Chairman Taylor, which would allow a school district to opt in or out of TRS-ActiveCare and resolve a related loophole within the Districts of Innovation (DOI) law. ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter had previously testified in support of this bill, which passed Wednesday by a unanimous vote and was recommended for the local and uncontested calendar.
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