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House to consider remote instruction
The Texas House has been hard at work considering bills both in committee and on the House floor. Today, the House is debating the election bill that members of both political parties feel so strongly about, Senate Bill 1 (Hughes/Murr). Additionally, they are also considering the property tax bills that we've mentioned before:

  • SB 8 (Bettencourt/Meyer) extends a tax refund (funded by the state) 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.
  • 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 (one approved by voters in May 2022). The Coalition worked to have language added to ensure schools would be fully funded for this additional property tax relief.

Tomorrow, the House will take up SB 15 (Taylor/Keith Bell), relating to remote instruction. SB 15 allows districts rated with a C or better to offer a local remote learning program to up to 10% of the district’s enrollment (more if a waiver is granted by the Commissioner). Students participating in such a program would be eligible for FSP funding. This program and funding would expire September 1, 2023 (by which point a Commission will have studied virtual learning and the 88th Legislature could adopt changes or extend this law).

No changes were made to SB 15 in committee (as House members were eager to rush it to the floor to ensure passage), but amendments are expected when the measure is considered by the full House. One issue highlighted during the hearing is that the bill as written does not allow a district's students to qualify for funding for a temporary period if the district or a district campus must be closed for a period of time due to an outbreak. Currently, remote instruction occurring during a period of closure would not be funded, and that instructional time would need to be made up through adjustments to the district calendar.

In addition to remote instruction, the House will also consider the "13th check" for TRS retirees in SB 7 (Huffman/Rogers), as well as the topics of bail reform, appropriations for border security, social media restrictions, and radioactive waste.

What about the other bills heard by the House Public Education Committee?
In addition to SB 15, the House Public Education Committee heard three other bills on Tuesday on as well (heard them in a 19 hour hearing lasting until 6 in the morning). 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) requires students compete in UIL athletic competitions based on biological sex.
  • 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.
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