Legislators must conclude their business in the 2nd called special session by Sunday. The Texas Constitution requires that all bills that pass must be reported out of committee three days before the Legislature adjourns sine die, so we are truly nearing the end of this process for any bill that has not already passed one chamber and been approved by committee in the second.
Remote instruction bill passed
The Texas Senate concurred with the House changes to SB 15 (Taylor/Keith Bell), the remote instruction bill. That means the bill is headed to Governor Abbott's desk to be signed into law--a feat not accomplished during the regular session.

The bill will take effect immediately (once signed), and language was added so that students who have already been participating in a local remote learning program during the 2021-22 school year will qualify for ADA funding (even before passage and effective date of the bill) so long as the program is operating under the standards and requirements specified in law.

SB 15 allows districts rated with a C or better to offer a local remote learning program for up to 10% of the district’s enrollment (more if a waiver is granted; also special education and 504 students do not count against the 10% cap) . Students participating in such a program would count towards ADA for funding purposes (unless they participated in remote learning last year and failed the STAAR assessment or if they have excessive unexcused absences). This program and funding will expire September 1, 2023.

For more details on this bill, please see our newly updated SB 15 Section-by-Section.
Three education bills scheduled for House floor debate tomorrow
Three bills were advanced by the House Public Education Committee and scheduled for consideration by the Texas House tomorrow.

SB 3 (Hughes/Huberty) is the anti-Critical Race Theory (CRT) bill. SB 3 would repeal everything added to law by HB 3979 from the regular session and put the following in place instead:
  • Requires a civics training program for school district personnel to ensure curriculum is taught in the manner required by this new law.
  • Requires districts using a learning management system or online portal to make instruction and materials available provide the students' log-in info to parents.
  • Provides specific instructions to the SBOE for the contents of social students TEKS regarding civics education.
  • Prohibits districts from compelling teachers to discuss current events and if current events are discussed, all perspectives must be presented and discussed.
  • Prevents a course requirement or award of credit for work or service with any organization engaged in lobbying, social policy advocacy, public policy advocacy, political activism, etc. The bill specifies that this prohibition does not apply to a student's participation in service projects, volunteering with service organizations, etc., or with an internship for P-TECH or that does not involve lobbying or advocacy.
  • School districts and school employees may not require or make part of a course concepts generally associated with Critical Race Theory (CRT).
  • Prohibits school districts from accepting private funding for the purpose of curriculum or training related to the concepts generally associated with CRT.
  • Prohibits a school from rules or punishments for students discussing the concepts of CRT "or have a chilling effect on student discussions involving these concepts."

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. This bill was passed during the regular session and then vetoed by Governor Abbott because it did not include a parental opt-out.

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 that would aid school districts in the implementation of this new law and help to focus instructional resources on the students who need them most. Northwest ISD Superintendent Ryder Warren did an excellent job outlining the needs for this legislation when he testified in the committee hearing Monday.

Please note that HB 233 is a House bill just now being considered in the House. If it passes the House, it will require a VERY strong desire among leadership in the Senate in order for the bill to be received, referred, heard, and reported out of the Senate committee in order to meet the 3-day deadline before the end of a legislative session specified in the Texas Constitution. It's not impossible, but it would require a miracle or two. We'll see what the special session, and the Texas Senate (who love to suspend rules), have to offer before this session comes to a close.

More property tax relief?
The Senate Finance Committee advanced SB 91 (Bettencourt) out of committee on Monday. It could be heard by the full Senate as early as today.

SB 91 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 testified on SB 91 today, voicing support for sustainable tax relief that would be more meaningful to taxpayers, rather than one year of temporary relief, followed by rates that jump back up.

As stated above, 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 not impossible. Unusual things can happen in a special session, but House rules are much harder to suspend, and the chances of this bill passing during the second called session are very slim. This bill could be considered again in a future special session (we know there is at least one more to come).
What's the status on everything else?
Here is a quick rundown on other bills we've been following:

Passed and Sent to the Governor:
  • SB 1 (Hughes/Murr), the highly debated election bill.
  • SB 7 (Huffman/Rogers), the "13th check" for TRS retirees.
  • 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).
  • SB 15 (Taylor/Bell, Keith), the remote/virtual education bill, described above.

On the Move (but stalled):
  • Appropriations bills have been awaiting consideration in the Senate for a couple of days now: SB 10 (Nelson), which restores legislative appropriations and SB 11 (Nelson), which addresses other appropriations. Companion bills HB 1 (Bonnen), is still waiting in the House Calendars Committee and and HB 5 (Bonnen) was scheduled for House debate yesterday and postponed.

Still in committee:
  • SB 2 (Perry/Swanson) requires students compete in UIL athletic competitions based on biological sex. This bill was considered again by the House Public Education Committee yesterday, but the committee chair ultimately decided to delay the vote. It's possible another hearing could be called to vote the bill out today or tomorrow.
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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