Back to school & back in business
Students are back in school and House members are back in the House chamber (or at least enough of them to muster a quorum).

Former Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio) has resigned from his seat, so that means the number of House members necessary for a quorum is now 99. Three additional members returned to the House floor yesterday, so that meant the House was able to conduct business and refer bills. They did so, and then adjourned until 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

The next step in the process is for House committees to conduct hearings. At this time, three committee have posted hearings:

The House Ways & Means Committee will meet on Monday, August 23, at 1:00 p.m. to hear three property tax relief bills:

  • SB 8 (Bettencourt/Meyer) extends a tax refund for the amount of the homestead exemption to homebuyers who qualify for it in the portion of the first year and would not otherwise receive that benefit. The Coalition worked to have language added in the Senate to ensure schools would receive state funding for such refunds.
  • SB 12 (Bettencourt/Meyer), and its accompanying constitutional amendment SJR 2 (Bettencourt/Meyer) extend the same property tax rate compression provided to all other property taxpayers in 2019 to the elderly and disabled on the frozen levy. (This measure would first have to be approved by voters in May 2022.) The Coalition also worked to have language added to ensure schools would be fully funded for this additional property tax relief.

The House Public Education Committee will meet on Tuesday, August 24, beginning at 10:30 a.m. to hear five bills:
  • HB 28 (Toth) requires schools provide a list of information necessary to identify teaching materials or activities assigned, distributed, or otherwise presented to students; also makes changes to laws adopted by the 87th Legislature regarding a ban on certain instructional requirements and prohibitions related to Critical Race Theory (CRT).
  • SB 2 (Perry) requires students compete in UIL athletic competitions based on biological sex.
  • SB 3 (Hughes) requires and prohibits certain social studies curriculum and instructional practices, related to CRT.
  • SB 9 (Huffman) requires schools provide instruction and materials and adopt policies relating to the prevention of child abuse, family violence, and dating violence, and requires a parental opt-out.
  • SB 15 (Taylor) allows school districts to qualify for FSP funding for virtual and off-campus electronic instruction for up to 10% of students (or more if waiver is granted) through 2023.

The House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights & Remedies is meeting today to hear SJR 3, which relates to bail for certain offenders and SB 13, which would postpone the 2022 primary election from March until May. Then on Saturday, August 21, the committee will meet to hear the SB 1 (Hughes), which has been dubbed the election integrity bill about which members of both political parties have such strong feelings.

For any of the above listed hearings, you can watch live or in the House archive after the hearing concludes.

Other bills of interest that have not yet been scheduled for committee hearings, but we will be watching for include:

  • 13th check for TRS retirees: SB 7 (Huffman) would provide a 13th check (up to $2,400) for TRS retirees who retired on or before December 31, 2020. This bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

  • The topic of continued funding for the legislative branch of government has yet to pass either chamber yet, but you can expect those committee hearings to come on either HB 1, which was referred to the House Appropriations Committee or SB 10, which was left pending in the Senate Finance Committee.
Updates from TEA
  • TEA has indicated they will not grant missed school day waivers for schools that close during the 2021-22 school year due to COVID-19. Instead, the state suggests that schools make up for missed minutes of instruction through adjustments to the local calendar to meet the 75,600 minute required minimum for instruction.
  • TEA will still be granting requests for low attendance waivers (subject to a 4,200 minute cap) for days when attendance is at least 10% lower than the previous year’s average. It is recommended that these waiver requests be held until later in the year when it is known which days need them most.

  • TEA has released a new corrected TAA on Homebound Instruction, which includes info on the new PEIMS number and clarifies which medical conditions qualify a student for homebound instruction.

  • TEA answered some new questions on the Remote Conferencing FAQ, which still appears to be the best option for students who cannot be present in school due to COVID-19 at this time.

  • TEA posted information on the Instructional Materials and Technology Allotment yesterday indicating that allotment allocations for each district will be available on the instructional materials website and are expected to be populated in EMAT today. The 2022–2023 allotment is lower than it has been in previous years, as the legislature reduced the allotment amount.

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