On repeat...again
We're now in the 5th day of the second called 30-day special session. So far, the second special session is shaping up about the same as the first. If enough House members return to allow for a 100-person quorum, that could change things. Until that happens, all the action is happening in the Texas Senate, in a way that seems oddly familiar...

Here is the run-down on where things stand regarding bills on the move in the Senate:

  • Election integrity: SB 1 (Hughes) was passed by the Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday and is headed for consideration by the full Senate, possibly as soon as today. This bill is almost identical to SB 1 from the first called special session, and similar to SB 7 from the regular session.

  • Public schools during the COVID-19 pandemic: SB 15 (Taylor) would allow schools the local control and ability to provide remote instruction to students in a manner that qualifies for Foundation School Program funding for up to 10% of students (or more if a waiver is granted). The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee yesterday and will now be considered by the full Senate. SB 15 is almost identical to the negotiated conference committee report for HB 1468 from the regular session (which failed to pass when the House lost a quorum).

  • Education about dating violence, domestic violence, and child abuse for students in grades 6-12 (that allows parents to opt out): SB 9 (Huffman) was heard by the Senate Jurisprudence Committee and passed by the full Senate yesterday. This bill is similar to SB 1109 (87R), which passed and was vetoed, and SB 72 (87S-1), which was passed by the Senate.

  • Student participation in UIL athletic competitions relating to the student's sex at birth: SB 2 (Perry) was approved by the Senate Health & Human Services Committee and received initial passage in the full Senate yesterday. Final passage is expected later today. This bill is similar to SB 29 (87R), which failed to pass, and then was passed by Senate in the first special as SB 2 and SB 32

  • Critical Race Theory: SB 3 (Hughes) was approved by the Senate State Affairs Committee yesterday and advanced to the full Senate. It is similar to the Senate version of HB 3979 (87R), which passed and became law as the House version without Senate amendments; SB 3 (87S-1) was also passed by the Senate.

  • Appropriations for the purpose of property tax relief: SB 8 (Bettencourt), which 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, was passed by the full Senate and sent to the House. SB 12 (Bettencourt), and it's accompanying constitutional amendment SJR 2 (Bettencourt), would extend the same property tax rate compression provided to all other property taxpayers in 2019 to the elderly and disabled on the frozen levy. (It would first have to be approved by voters in May 2022.) These three pieces of legislation were also passed during the first special session, and the Coalition worked to have language added that ensures that schools are fully funded for these property tax relief measures; that language is incorporated into these latest versions.

  • 13th check for TRS retirees: SB 7 (Huffman) would provide a 13th check (up to $2400) for TRS retirees who retired on or before December 31, 2020. This bill is similar to HB 3507 (87R), which failed to pass either chamber then, but was passed by the Senate in the first special as SB 7.

All of this activity in the Senate could be leading to the same end as the previous special session if the House does not have a quorum. The House will continue to meet each day and see if that changes. We will let you know of any changed circumstances that develop.
Schools pay nearly $3 billion in recapture
Recapture is on the rise (again). While HB 3 (86R) helped to curb the growth of recapture, it did not bring a lasting reduction.

When schools make their recapture payments by August 15, the TEA Summary of Finance shows payments will total $2.98 billion. When it is all said and done, that number will change through the settle-up process and many districts will pay less than their SOF amount. However, the state is requiring that federal ESSER II dollars be used to pay for the ADA hold harmless, and that fact that will cause increased recapture amounts for many districts.

This means that local property taxpayers are seeing more of their local taxes sent to the state--a record-breaking amount. But other schools are not experiencing increased funding as a result of that. In fact, the $1.4 billion increase in recapture for the 20-21 biennium (above the estimated amount that was appropriated) was used as a means of state savings when the supplemental appropriations act was adopted in May.

The Texas School Coalition issued a press release this morning regarding the record-setting amount of recapture schools are expected to pay. You can view that here. Please feel free to share this information with your local news outlets and include some details and context from your local district.

Please let us know if you have any questions or need some follow-up.
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