The final day of the 2nd called session is less than a week away. Legislators must conclude their business by Sunday.

Today that House goes into session at 2:00 p.m. and the Senate will convene at 4:00 p.m. Several committee hearings are also scheduled for today.
House to consider remote instruction
The Texas House gave preliminary passage to SB 15 (Taylor/Keith Bell), the remote instruction bill, on Friday. They will consider that bill for third reading and final passage in the House this afternoon.

As you may recall, passage of SB 15 would allow districts rated with a C or better to offer a local remote learning program for up to 10% of the district’s enrollment. Students participating in such a program would count towards ADA for funding purposes. This program and funding would expire September 1, 2023.

On Friday, the House adopted an amendment by the bill's sponsor, Rep. Keith Bell, that made some pretty significant changes to the bill (a 6-page amendment to an 8-page bill). One of those changes is to exclude students who failed a STAAR test in the previous year from eligibility for funding in a remote learning program.

To help clarify what the bill originally proposed and what changes were adopted in the amendment, please see our Section-by-Section of SB 15 for more details.

If you have thoughts or concerns about the Bell amendment to tie funding to performance on the STAAR assessment or another matter in this bill, time is running out to communicate that to elected officials. The House will vote on final passage this afternoon, and then it is up to the Senate to either concur with the House changes or take the bill to conference committee to work out the differences.

Click here if you need help finding contact info for your elected representatives in the Texas House and Texas Senate.
Senate Finance Committee to take up more property tax relief
The Senate Finance Committee will hear SB 91 (Bettencourt) today in a hearing scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

SB 91 was filed Friday, and the bill seeks to provide temporary property tax relief in the 2022-23 school year. Following that one-time temporary rate reduction, tax rates would return to previous calculations in the 2023-24 school year (on track with the rate compression from HB 3). The bill appropriates the lesser of $4 billion or $2 billion plus 50% of any budget surplus estimated by the Comptroller to cover the cost of funding reductions experienced by schools when less local taxes are collected. This is estimated to deliver property tax rate reduction somewhere in the range of 6-12 cents.

The Texas School Coalition will testify on SB 91 today, voicing support for the concept of property tax relief but concern over the temporary nature of this measure. Taxpayers are likely to be angry when rates increase again in 2023-24. Tax relief that is lasting and sustainable over multiple years would be more meaningful to taxpayers.

It is challenging for a bill just now being heard in its chamber of origin to make it all the way to final passage at this point in the session, but certainly not impossible. Unusual things can happen in a special session.

House Public Education Committee to discuss masks and accelerated instruction
The House Public Education Committee will take up three bills at their hearing this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. or once the House adjourns:

  • HB 141 (Leach): Relating to prohibiting face covering mandates for public school students.

  • HB 164 (Dutton): Relating to a policy requiring the use of face coverings in public schools.

  • HB 233 (Huberty) Relating to providing accelerated instruction for public school students who fail to achieve satisfactory performance on reading and math assessment instruments (rather than all assessments). The bill also increases the maximum size for small group instruction for AI from 3 to 10 students and makes other changes .

What's the status on everything else?
Here is a quick rundown on where other bills state that we've been following:

Passed and Sent to the Governor:
  • SB 8 (Bettencourt/Meyer) extends a tax refund (funded by the state) for the amount of the homestead exemption to homebuyers who qualify.
  • SB 12 (Bettencourt/Meyer), and accompanying constitutional amendment SJR 2 extend the same property tax rate compression provided to all other property taxpayers in 2019 to the elderly and disabled on the frozen levy (once approved by voters in May 2022). Language ensures schools will be fully funded for this additional property tax relief.

On the Move:
  • SB 1 (Hughes/Murr), the highly debated election bill is in conference committee, and the bill's author Senator Bryan Hughes reported over the weekend that conferees reached an agreement and adoption of the conference committee report is expected soon.
  • SB 7 (Huffman/Rogers), the "13th check" for TRS retirees received preliminary passage in the House on Friday and final passage is expected today. Unless it receives a 3rd reading amendment, it will pass exactly the same in both chambers and head straight to the Governor's desk.
  • Appropriations bills were advanced out of Senate Finance yesterday: SB 10 (Nelson), which restores legislative appropriations and SB 11 (Nelson), which addresses other appropriations. Companion bills HB 1 (Bonnen) and HB 5 (Bonnen) are also advancing in the House. HB 5 is on the House calendar today and HB 1 is waiting to be scheduled by the House Calendars Committee.

Still in committee:
At this time, none of these bills have been voted out of committee.

  • 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). This bill was heard in place of SB 3 (Hughes), which was not heard.
  • SB 2 (Perry/Swanson) requires students compete in UIL athletic competitions based on biological sex.
  • SB 9 (Huffman/Dutton) 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.
Please join us for a (virtual) Texas School Coalition meeting and update on Wednesday, September 15, at 2:00 p.m. Click below to register. We hope to see you there!
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