user avatar
Erin Zwiener
Texas House District 45
Status

incumbent

Party

Democrat

Occupation

Conservationist/Author

Address

P.O. Box 184, Driftwood, TX, 78619

Additional Information

First elected to the Texas House in 2018. Current term expires Jan. 2023.

Endorsed in the 2022 general election and Democratic primary election by Texas Parent PAC, a pro-public education organization that advocates for adequate and equitable funding of public schools, local control, teacher quality, and the prevention of private school vouchers. She also received the group's endorsement in the 2020 election.

Endorsed by the editorial board of the Austin American-Statesman in the 2022 Democratic primary election. She also received their endorsement in the 2020 general election and in the 2020 Democratic primary election


  • House Vote #1 - 2021: VOUCHERS

    Voted for a budget amendment to prohibit state funds from being spent on private school vouchers. ATPE supported the amendment. 

    House Floor Amendment #84 by Rep. Abel Herrero (D-Robstown) to Senate Bill 1 by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. The House passed the ATPE-supported amendment during its debate on the budget bill, April 22, 2021. (Record vote #410. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)

  • House Vote #2 - 2021: SPECIAL EDUCATION

    Voted against a bill creating the "Supplemental Special Education Services" grant, which allows parents of eligible students in special education to apply for a grant of up to $1,500 for the purchase of supplemental educational services and materials.

    Senate Bill 1716 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), sponsored in the House by Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. The bill as passed by the Senate would have created a special education voucher program, which ATPE opposed, but the House removed the voucher language. On May 26, 2021, the House voted to pass its version of the bill on third reading, sending SB 1716 to the governor without objection from ATPE. (Record vote #1516. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)

  • House Vote #3 - 2021: COMPENSATION

    Voted for an amendment that would have ensured teachers could keep pay raises they had received as a result of 2019 school finance legislation. ATPE supported the amendment.

    House Floor Amendment #14 by Rep. Chris Turner (D-Arlington) to House Bill 1525 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingsville), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 21, 2021, the House passed the ATPE-supported amendment during its floor debate on a school finance clean-up bill. (Record vote #387. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)

  • House Vote #4 - 2021: CIVICS AND CURRICULUM

    Voted against a bill that mandated changes to social studies curriculum standards, sought to ban the teaching of concepts that have been associated with "critical race theory," limited students' access to course credit for activities related to legislation, and restricted educators' discussions of controversial topics and current events in the classroom. ATPE opposed the bill.

    House Bill 3979 by Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 11, 2021, the House voted to pass the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading. (Record vote #982. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) Read more about the bill here.

  • House Vote #5 - 2021: CIVICS AND CURRICULUM

    Voted against a bill passed during the second special session that replaced HB 3979 passed during the regular session. The bill requires the State Board of Education to change social studies curriculum standards and seeks to ban the teaching of concepts that have been associated with "critical race theory." SB 3 mandates a civics training academy for certain teachers and requires that teachers address controversial topics in an objective manner free from political bias. ATPE opposed the bill overall but supported House floor amendments that made the bill better than its predecessor, HB 3979.

    Senate Bill 3 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), sponsored in the House by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 87th Legislature, Second Called Session. On Sept. 2, 2021, the House amended and then voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #150. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal). Read more about SB 3 here.

  • House Vote #6 - 2021: HOME-SCHOOL UIL

    Voted for a bill that allows home-schooled students to participate in University Interscholastic League (UIL) activities on behalf of and at the expense of a school district without meeting the same academic requirements under "no pass, no play" rules that apply to public school students. ATPE opposed the bill.

    House Bill 547 by Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 13, 2021, the House voted to approve the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading. (Record vote #1028. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) The Senate later amended HB 547, removing House provisions that would have given coaches additional authority to verify home-schooled students' academic eligibility and allowed students served by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department to participate in UIL. On May 28, 2021, the House voted to concur with the Senate amendments to the bill, thereby sending a final version of HB 547 to the governor. (Record vote #1556. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) Read more about the bill here.

  • House Vote #7 - 2021: CHARTER SCHOOLS

    Voted against a bill that expands property tax exemptions for charter schools and those who lease property to a charter school. ATPE opposed the bill.

    House Bill 3610 by Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 8, 2021, the House voted to approve the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading. (Record vote #913. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) Read more about the bill here.

  • House Vote #8 - 2021: RETIREMENT

    Voted for a bill authorizing a one-time supplemental payment or "13th check" of up to $2,400 to TRS retirees. ATPE supported the bill.

    Senate Bill 7 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), sponsored in the House by Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), 87th Legislature, Second Called Session. On Aug. 30, 2021, the House voted to approve the ATPE-supported bill on third reading. (Record vote #98. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)

  • House Vote #9 - 2021: VIRTUAL SCHOOLS

    Voted for a bill that would have expanded full-time virtual school programs statewide. ATPE opposed the bill.

    House Bill 1468 by Rep. Keith Bell (R-Forney), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 28, 2021, the House voted to approve the ATPE-opposed bill on third reading. (Record vote #497. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.) The Senate passed an amended version of HB 1468, and the bill was eventually sent to a conference committee to generate a compromise version. HB 1468 ultimately died when the House failed to vote on the conference committee report before the regular session ended.

  • House Vote #10 - 2021: VIRTUAL SCHOOLS

    Voted for a bill that expands funding and authorization for full-time virtual school programs statewide. ATPE opposed the bill.

    Senate Bill 15 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), sponsored in the House by Rep. Keith Bell (R-Forney), 87th Legislature, Second Called Session. Based on the ATPE-opposed HB 1468 that failed to pass in the regular session, SB 15 expands state funding options for students in full-time virtual schools. On Aug. 30, 2021, the House voted to pass the bill on third reading. (Record vote #96. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal.)

  • House Vote #11 - 2021: ACCOUNTABILITY

    Voted for a bill that pauses accountability ratings for the 2021-22 school year, halts progressive sanctions for D- and F-rated schools once they earn a C rating, and clarifies due process protections for districts facing sanctions.

    Voted for/Voted against/Was "present not voting" on/Was absent for the vote on a bill that pauses accountability ratings for the 2021-22 school year, halts progressive sanctions for D- and F-rated schools once they earn a C rating, and clarifies due process protections for districts facing sanctions.

  • House Vote #12 - 2021: TESTING/ACCELERATED INSTRUCTION

    Voted against a bill that eliminated the STAAR passage requirement for grade promotion but requires accelerated instruction for students who failed a STAAR test. 

    House Bill 4545 by Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston), 87th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 28, 2021, the House voted to concur with Senate amendments to the bill, which sent a final version of HB 4545 to the governor. (Record vote #1689. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal). Read more about the bill here.

  • House Vote #13 - 2021: ACCELERATED INSTRUCTION

    Voted for a bill that would have eased implementation of HB 4545, passed during the regular session, by limiting the subjects in which tutoring is required for students who failed a STAAR test and offering temporary relief from tutoring group size limits.

    House Bill 233 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 87th Legislature, Second Called Session. On Sept. 2, 2021, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #153. View an official record of the vote in the House Journal). The bill ultimately died when the Senate declined to hear it before the end of the session. Read more about the bill here.

  • (Historical) House Vote #1 - 2019: EDUCATION FUNDING & REFORM

    Voted for a major school finance and reform bill providing $6.5 billion in increased funding for public education and $5 billion for property tax relief.

    House Bill 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 3, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #159. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #2 - 2019: RETIREMENT

    Voted for an ATPE-supported educator retirement bill making the TRS pension fund sound by increasing contribution rates and authorizing a one-time 13th check for retirees.

    Senate Bill 12 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 25, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #661. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #3 - 2019: SCHOOL SAFETY

    Voted for an ATPE-supported school safety bill offering funding to implement school safety improvements and provide mental health resources.

    Senate Bill 11 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 22, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #1610. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #4 - 2019: SCHOOL SAFETY

    Voted for a floor amendment to Senate Bill 11 requiring the state to identify regional resources that schools can use to address students' mental health needs. The amendment was based on Rep. Allison's HB 4414, a bill supported by ATPE.

    House Floor Amendment #8 by Rep. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio) to Senate Bill 11 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. During the House floor debate on this school safety bill, Rep. Allison offered Floor Amendment #8 to improve mental health resources in schools. The amendment passed on May 21, 2019. (Record vote #1579. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) Procedural note: This amendment was later reconsidered and amended before being adopted by the House again. (Record vote #1600. View an official record of that subsequent vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #5 - 2019: CLASS SIZES

    Voted against a bill that would have weakened the 22:1 cap on elementary school class sizes. ATPE opposed the bill.

    House Bill 1133 by Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 9, 2019, the House voted to defeat the bill on second reading. (Record vote #1244. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

  • (Historical) House Vote #6 - 2019: EDUCATOR QUALITY

    Voted for an ATPE-supported bill that would have funded and strengthened mentoring programs for teachers.

    House Bill 102 by Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 9, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #197. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) HB 102 did not get heard by the Senate, but its language was incorporated into HB 3 that did pass and become law.

  • (Historical) House Vote #7 - 2019: EDUCATOR QUALITY

    Voted for a bill to require certain school districts to assign properly certified teachers to students in elementary grades and prevent students from being taught by first-year teachers in consecutive years. HB 1276 would have applied to school districts with at least 5,000 students, unless the district was exempted under the District of Innovation (DOI) law or received a hardship waiver from the commissioner of education. The bill was designed to prevent students from being assigned for two consecutive school years to teachers with less than one year of experience or teachers not certified in the subject being taught as part of the foundation curriculum. Exceptions were provided for new transfer students and students whose parent or guardian consents to the placement. ATPE supported the bill.

    House Bill 1276 by Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On April 25, 2019, the House voted to approve the bill on third reading. (Record vote #746. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) The bill ultimately died after it did not get heard in the Senate.

  • (Historical) House Vote #8 - 2019: CHARTER SCHOOLS

    Voted for a floor amendment to House Bill 3 to increase the transparency and efficiency of charter schools by requiring them to undergo an audit of their fiscal management prior to expanding or opening new campuses and to share the audit results on their website. ATPE supported the amendment.

    House Floor Amendment #15 by Rep. Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd) to House Bill 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. During the House floor debate on the school finance bill, Rep. Bailes offered Floor Amendment #15 on charter school transparency and efficiency. The amendment passed on April 3, 2019. (Record vote #153. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.) The Senate later stripped the amendment out of the bill.

  • (Historical) House Vote #9 - 2019: POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT

    Voted against a bill that would prohibit school districts and other local governmental entities from funding legislative advocacy efforts or paying membership dues to organizations that engage in legislative advocacy.

    Senate Bill 29 by Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), 86th Legislature, Regular Session. On May 20, 2019, the House voted to defeat the bill on third reading. (Record vote #1519. View an official record of the vote in the House journal.)

Candidate Survey Responses


RESPONSES TO THE 2022 ATPE CANDIDATE SURVEY:

1. If elected, what will be your top priorities for public education?

Continue the efforts I have made as Vice-Chair of the Article III subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee to secure more state funding of our public schools and ensure that the funding is sustainable. I am proud to have been able to include a rider to protect previous teacher pay raises going forward, and I want to continue seeking more dedicated funding for special education and IEPs. Additional state support to public schools is essential to rebuild from staff shortages and other problems that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. I will continue to fight to restore the state's full commitment to public education.

2. What are your recommendations for funding public education, including securing the necessary revenue to sustain the improvements made by House Bill 3 in 2019? Do you believe additional funding is needed?

We need to close revenue loopholes in the existing tax code to ensure that we have a sustainable funding stream for our schools. One avenue is reforming corporate property tax appraisals to end the "race to the bottom" in valuations. This will ensure that everyone pays their fair share for our public schools and shift the burden off residential property owners. And yes, we need more funding for our schools. Until House Bill 3, state funding for public schools had been flat since 2011, no increase for population growth or inflation. House Bill 3 is a critical step in the right direction, but it is only the first step.

3. How would you address the challenge of rising health care costs facing Texas educators and ensure that active and retired educators have access to affordable health care?

Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the nation, which means that when many Texans go to the hospital, they're unable to pay. Those costs are passed on to folks who are able to pay and contribute to the rapid rise in health care costs for everyone. I support better funding for TRS care and offering retired educators who left a golden ticket back, but we also have to address the uninsured rate. Expanding Medicaid is the best way to address this. It would provide health care coverage for another 1.5 million Texans, bring $6 billion a year of our federal income tax dollars back to Texas, and drive down health care costs for everyone.

4. Do you believe the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) should be maintained as a traditional defined benefit pension plan for all future, current, and retired educators, or do you support converting TRS to a defined contribution plan that is more like a 401(k) plan, in which future benefits are not guaranteed?

I support maintaining TRS as a defined benefit plan.

5. What do you feel is the proper role of standardized testing in the Texas public education system? For instance, should student test scores be used for teacher pay, school accountability ratings, evaluating teachers, measuring student progress, etc.?

Standardized testing should be used to measure student progress and identify opportunities for improvement. Unfortunately, at the moment, testing is being used punitively. I support ending high stakes testing and doing a full audit of our current standardized tests to assess which ones are measuring students correctly and which ones aren't.

6. Would you vote to create any type of voucher, tax credit, scholarship, education savings account, or other program aimed at paying for students, including any subpopulation of students, to attend non-public K-12 schools, such as private or home schools?

No. Public dollars should stay in public schools.

7. State law allows educators and other public employees to voluntarily choose to join professional associations such as ATPE and have membership dues deducted from their paychecks at no cost to taxpayers. Do you support or oppose letting all public employees continue to exercise this right?

Where efforts have occurred to forbid public employees this right, it has only been an attempt to impede membership growth in such organizations. I support allowing public employees to deduct from their paychecks.

8. What role, if any, should charter schools have in the public education system, and do you feel the number of charter schools operating in Texas should be reduced or expanded?

The number of charter schools should not be expanded. The last thing we need is more resources being taken from public schools.

9. How much freedom should school districts have to make decisions during disease outbreaks, such as requiring face coverings and immunizations or transitioning to remote instruction?

The old mantra by some of "local control" has shifted to be "control local." Education professionals and school boards are closest to the conditions faced by teachers and students and should be the ones deciding how to handle disease outbreaks in schools with input from experts in the field.

10. What do you believe is the proper role of virtual education within the public education system? Do you believe full-time virtual education should be expanded, and if so, under what circumstances?

Virtual education can serve as a connection to students separated due to public health crisis but is not always a substitute for in-person education and socialization. I oppose the use of vouchers to fund virtual education.

11. What do you feel should be the state’s role (versus the role of school districts or individual educators) in decisions about public school curriculum and instructional materials?

The State Board of Education's curriculum standards are developed with substantial input from classroom educators. Beyond those standards, local school districts should otherwise be free from micromanagement and intrusion by the state according to the latest culture-war scare tactics. Particularly alarming is the current effort to take books which discuss diversity and inclusion out of school libraries.

12. The COVID-19 pandemic and additional instructional support needed to remediate students’ learning losses have placed additional strain on public schools’ staffing needs. How would you work to ensure classrooms are appropriately staffed, teachers’ workloads are manageable, and planning time is not sacrificed amid these challenges?

When teachers are overloaded with burdensome reporting requirements and health and safety concerns, it cannot be surprising when so many leave the field. I support legislation to ease reporting requirements and to relieve some of the health and safety burden with efforts such as sick leave pools.

Additional Comments from Candidate on Survey


No additional comments