86th Legislative Session Update #9

“Not the cry, but the flight of the wild duck leads the flock to follow.” Chinese Proverb

The Texas Legislature was in session this past week. Here are some key happenings:

Supplemental Appropriations – On Thursday, Governor Greg Abbott designated supplemental appropriations as an emergency item. His specific designation says, “Legislation relating to making supplemental appropriations and reductions in appropriations and giving direction including direction regarding reimbursement adjustment authority regarding appropriations.”

SENATE:

The Senate was in session this past Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. On Wednesday, they recessed until Thursday for first reading and referral of bills to committees.

On Monday, the Senate unanimously approved SB 3 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), which would provide a permanent $5,000 annual salary increase for classroom teachers. A Senate floor amendment added librarians. Senator Nelson said, “It has been a decade since teachers received a small raise from the state. It’s been two decades since they received a meaningful raise. It’s time to give our teachers – all of our teachers – a raise.”

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said, “I congratulate Senator Nelson and the Texas Senate for unanimously passing this critical legislation to provide a $5,000 across-the-board pay raise for Texas teachers. Our productive economy has given us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to accomplish school finance reform and the nearly $4 billion investment to increase teacher pay across-the-board is the first step in accomplishing that goal. SB 3, along with SB 4, school finance reform and SB 12, the Retired Teachers’ Security Act, will help us recruit and retain the best teachers in our public schools, which is key to improving student outcomes.”

On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously approved SB 10 by Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), which would establish the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium to foster collaboration among health-related institutions with the goal of improving early intervention and access to mental health services, addressing psychiatry workforce issues, promoting and coordinating mental health research, and strengthening judicial training on juvenile mental health.

Senator Nelson said, “This bill leverages the expertise of our medical schools to address gaps in our mental health system, especially for at-risk youth. Many young people are at risk of suicide, substance abuse or becoming a danger to themselves and others. This bill allows us to provide early intervention and connect these individuals to treatment.”

BUDGET:

House Appropriations Committee:

The House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Resiliency & Investment met this past Monday to discuss House budget recommendations related to information technology, cybersecurity, capital needs and CAPPS.

The House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Articles I, IV and V met on Wednesday to discuss budget recommendations.

The House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Article II met last Monday and Wednesday to discuss pending items and unfinished business.

The House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Article III met last Wednesday to discuss budget recommendations.

The House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Articles IV, VII, and VIII met last Wednesday to discuss budget recommendations.

This past Monday, the House Appropriations Committee considered budget recommendations for Articles I (General Government), IV (Judiciary), V (Public Safety and Criminal Justice), VI (Natural Resources), VII (Business & Economic Development), and VIII (Regulatory).

This past Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee considered budget recommendations for Articles II (Health & Human Services) and III (Education).

This past Tuesday, the House Pensions, Investments & Financial Services Committee took up:

HB 440 by Jim Murphy (R-Houston) would require a sample ballot for a local general obligation bond election to be posted on a taxing unit’s website at least 21 days before the election; and would add a new Chapter 1253 in the Government Code, “General Obligation Bonds Issued by Political Subdivisions” which would prohibit a taxing unit from issuing general obligation bonds to purchase, improve, or construct improvements or to purchase personal property if the weighted average maturity of the bonds exceeds 120 percent of the reasonably expected weighted average economic life of the items purchased.

In support were representatives of Allen Boone Humphries Robinson LLP, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Texas Association of Realtors, and National Federation of Independent Business. In opposition were representatives of Arlington ISD Board of Trustees and Travis County Commissioners Court. It was left pending.

HB 477 by Jim Murphy (R-Houston) would require ballot language for issuance of local debt obligations to include:

  • a general description of the purpose for which the debt obligations are to be authorized;
  • the total principal amount of the debt obligations to be authorized; and
  • that taxes sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on the debt obligations will be imposed.

In support were representatives of Allen Boone Humphries Robinson, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Schwartz Page & Harding LLP, Texas Association of Realtors and National Federation of Independent Business. In opposition were representatives of Arlington ISD Board of Trustees, Texas School Alliance, Texas Association of School Boards, Fast Growth School Coalition, Travis County Commissioners Court, Texas Association of School Administrators, Texas Association of School Boards, and Texas School Alliance. It was left pending.

The Senate Finance Committee will meet on Monday, March 11, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. in E1.036 of the capitol extension to take up:

SB 500 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) is the supplemental appropriations bill. Key provisions:

General Revenue – $1.7 billion

  • FY2019 Medicaid shortfall: $2.1 billion GR, $4.4 billion All Funds
  • Foster care shortfall: $84 million
  • Correctional Managed Health Care shortfall: $160 million
  • Foundation School Program savings: projected $643 million in reduced state cost

Economic Stabilization Fund – $2.5 billion

  • Hurricane Harvey funds: At least $1.2 billion in funds addressing Harvey impact, including approx. $900 million for public schools
  • School safety and hardening: $100 million
  • Governor’s disaster grants: $100 million
  • Texas Guaranteed Tuition Plan: $211 million
  • State hospital construction: $300 million
  • State pension liabilities: $300 million each for ERS and TRS

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:

This past Monday, The House International Relations & Economic Development Committee took up:

HB 303 by Dennis Paul (R-Webster) would add municipalities with a population of two million or more to the list of entities eligible to authorize the creation of a spaceport development corporation. In support were representatives of the City of Houston and Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

HB 390 by Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) would allow counties to be designated by the Texas Economic Development Bank as a defense readjustment project if the county has an interlocal agreement with the municipality that has jurisdiction of the territory in which the project or activity will be located. In support were representatives of Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations, Port of San Antonio, Texas Association of Business, Texas Municipal League, Texas Association of Manufacturers, TexAmericas Center, and the Cities of Fort Worth, El Paso, and San Antonio. There was not opposition. It was left pending.

HB 1000 by Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) would require the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism to administer the Rural and Opportunity Fund to make growth investments in targeted small businesses in rural communities and federally-designated opportunity zones.

It would allow insurance companies to receive a premium tax credit to offset credit-eligible capital contributions made to the fund up to a maximum fund balance of $35 million. In support were representatives of Advantage Capital, Stonehenge Capital Company, Rural Jobs Coalition, Texas Press Association, Fasken Oil and Ranch, Ltd., Texas Association of Health Plans, Texas Association of Business, Texas Municipal League, Texas Association of Manufacturers, and Texas Farm Bureau. In opposition was Dick Lavine of the Center for Public Policy Priorities and one individual. It was left pending.

This past Wednesday, the Senate Select Committee on Ports heard testimony on the economic impact that inland waterways and coastal ports have on the state’s economy and receive updates on recent port activity. The committee heard from representatives of the Port of Houston Authority, Texas Department of Transportation, Kinder Morgan Inc., Texas Waterways Operators Association, Port of Corpus Christi, Texas Ports Association, Texas State Pilots Association, and Enterprise Houston Ship Channel.

Next Week: The House International Relations & Economic Development Committee will meet on Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. in E2.014 of the capitol extension to take up:

HB 1588 by Will Metcalf (R-Conroe) would change the due date for the annual reports to the comptroller for Type 4-A and 4-B economic development corporations from April 1 to February 1.

The Senate Agriculture Committee will meet on Monday, March 11, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. in 2E.20 of the capitol building to take up:

SB 743 by Bob Hall (R-Canton) would establish the Texas Olive Oil Industry Advisory Board to develop recommendations to the Commissioner of Agriculture to promote and expand the olive and olive oil industry in Texas.

ENERGY:

Reported from Committee:

HB 382 by Lina Ortega (D-El Paso) would authorize municipally owned utilities to establish a bill payment assistance program for its utility system’s customers who have exhausted all private and nonprofit sources of utility assistance. It was voted out favorably from the House State Affairs Committee.

This past Tuesday, the House Business and Industry Committee took up:

HB 321 by Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) would change in statute “health spa” to “health club” and increase from $50,000 to $75,000 the maximum amount of a surety bond required to secure a health club; and would add a facility used solely to teach yoga to exemptions from the requirement for security. A representative of National Association of Social Workers – Texas Chapter registered support. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

HEALTH:

On Tuesday, the House Insurance Committee took up:

HB 565 by Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) would expand Medicaid eligibility to include all persons at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level.

In support were representatives of the Children’s Defense Fund of Texas, Texas Medical Association, Texas Academy of Family Physicians, Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Texas Pediatric Society, Center for Public Priorities, National Association of Social Workers – Texas Chapter, Texas Hospital Association, Texans Care for Children, Texas Impact, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, League of Women Voters, Children At Risk, National Alliance on Mental Illness, AARP Texas, Texas Brain Injury Providers Alliance, Legacy Community Health, Texas AFL-CIO, Texas NAACP, Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition, American Diabetes Association, United Ways of Texas, Community Health Choice, Teaching Hospitals of Texas, University Health System, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Texas Occupational

Therapy Association, Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, and eight individuals. In opposition were representatives of Texas Values Action, and Texas Conservative Coalition. It was left pending.

HB 762 by Gene Wu (D-Houston) would require health insurers to cover testing for HIV and AIDS. In support were representatives of Legacy Community Health, National Association of Social Workers – Texas Chapter, Harris Health System, Texas Impact, and four individuals. In opposition were representatives of Texas Association of Business, Texas Association of Health Plans, Texas Conservative Coalition, and National Federation of Independent Business. It was left pending.

On Wednesday, the House Public Health Committee took up:

HB 460 by Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) would authorize a physician to dispense dangerous drugs to his/her patients and charge the patient for the drugs. It was left pending.

HB 602 by Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) would require the Texas Medical Board to clear the record of a license holder that an administrative law judge determines that an alleged violation subject to the contested case did not occur. It was left pending.

HB 604 by Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) would prohibit the release of confidential patient information to the Texas Medical Board for use in a malpractice or criminal case against a physician, unless the patient consents in writing, or if a court orders the release of the information. It was left pending.

HB 749 by John Zerwas (R-Fulshear) would increase the smoking age to 21. It was left pending.

Passed the Senate:

SB 10 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) would establish the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium to foster collaboration among health-related institutions with the goal of improving early intervention and access to mental health services. It would:

  • Create a consortium to help coordinate state mental health initiatives across Texas’ health-related institutions of higher education;
  • Establish mental health “hubs” at our health-related institutions consisting of psychiatrists, social workers, referral specialists and other mental health professionals;
  • Establish the Child Psychiatry Access Network (CPAN), which will allow pediatricians and primary care providers to consult with mental health experts on treatment options for their patients — which is key because 75 percent of the time these providers are the first to detect mental health issues, yet many do not feel comfortable providing mental health care;
  • Establish a program allowing youth to access services through telemedicine;
  • Increase residency opportunities for psychiatry students in community settings;
  • Expand and coordinate mental health research at our health-related institutions; and
  • Direct that judges be educated about mental health resources in their community.

The committee substitute and three floor amendments were adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously.

Surprise Medical Billing – Last Friday, Senator Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) and Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) announced the filing of legislation to end surprise medical billing. Senator Hancock’s bill is SB 1264, and Martinez Fischer plans to file the House companion bill. Senator Hancock said, “These measures would remove patients from the center of billing disputes and would prevent consumers from receiving debilitating charges from out-of-network medical providers.”

Bob Jackson, state director of AARP Texas said, “Texans are fed up with surprise medical bills, and consumers deserve to be held harmless from the anguish and shock that they encounter due to billing disputes between insurers and medical providers. SB 1264 says that when a patient gets treatment from an out-of-network medical provider, the patient will not be held financially responsible for amounts greater than what they would owe if the provider were in-network.

In other words, the patients could not be sent a surprise medical bill, or what’s also known as a “balance bill,” which is the difference between what an out-of-network doctor or facility charges and what insurers pay. Under the legislation, medical providers, such as physicians and hospitals, would be able to bring their payment disputes over the fees for out-of-network services to an independent mediator.”

HIGHER EDUCATION:

On Wednesday, the Senate Higher Education Committee held an organizational meeting. They had a panel on the Dallas Promise Program with Brian Lusk, Chief of Strategic Initiatives with Dallas ISD, Chancellor Joe May of Dallas County Community College District, and President Bob Mong of University of North Texas-Dallas. Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes also testified. He gave a progress report on the 60x30TX goals for higher education.

On Wednesday, the House Higher Education Committee took up:

HB 60 by Lina Ortega (D-El Paso) would require institutions of higher education to distribute information to students regarding eligibility requirements and enrollment procedures for women’s health programs. In support were representatives of Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition, Young Invincibles, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, Texas Hospital Association, Texas Medical Association and Center for Public Policy Foundation. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

HB 844 by Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would limit the amount an institution of higher education can charge for an official transcript to $10. There were no witnesses for or against. Rex Peebles of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board was a resource witness. It was left pending.

HB 1180 by Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would provide that a recipient of a scholarship under the Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program would be allowed to complete a graduate or postgraduate degree program relevant to military service prior to entering into a commitment or contract for military service. One individual registered support. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

Reported from Committee:

HB 80 by Lina Ortega (D-El Paso) would require the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct a study with the Texas Health Professions Resource Center, the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies, and the Texas Demographic Center to identify statewide and regional shortages in health professions, with an emphasis on doctoral-level training for those professions. It was voted out favorably as substituted from the House Higher Education Committee.

HB 277 by Tom Oliverson (R-Houston) would require electronic common admission applications to include a link to comparative gainful employment data complied by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Workforce Commission. It was voted out favorably from the House Higher Education Committee.

HB 539 by Ben Leman (R-Brenham) would require automatic admission to institutions of higher education for students that graduate as the valedictorian of the student’s high school graduating class. It was voted out favorably as substituted from the House Higher Education Committee.

SB 212 by Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would require an employee of a public and private institution of higher education who witnesses or receives information regarding the occurrence of an incident of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking alleged to have been committed by or against a student or an employee of the institution to promptly report the incident to the institution’s Title IX coordinator. It was voted out as substituted from the Senate State Affairs Committee.

Next Week: The Senate State Affairs Committee will meet on Monday, March 11, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. in the Senate Chamber to take up:

SB 18 by Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would affirm that it is the policy of the state to protect the expressive constitutional rights of individuals by recognizing freedom of speech and assembly as central to the mission of institutions of higher education; would require public institutions of higher education to ensure that common outdoor areas are deemed to be traditional public forums and permit any individual to engage in expressive activities in those areas freely; and would require institutions of higher education to adopt a policy detailing students’ rights and responsibilities regarding expressive activities.

The House International Relations & Economic Development Committee will meet on Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. in E2.014 of the capitol extension to take up:

HB 114 by James White (R-Hillister) would require high school students and their parents to receive information regarding the availability of college credit awarded by institutions of higher education to veterans and military service members for military experience, education, and training obtained during military service (the College Credit for Heroes Program).

HUMAN RESOURCES/EMPLOYMENT:

Last Monday, the House Defense & Veterans’ Affairs Committee took up:

HB 676 by Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would add spouses of totally disabled veterans to the qualifications for a veteran’s employment preference. In support were representatives of the Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations, The Voices of Our Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations, Texas Council of Chapters of the Military Officers Association of America, American Legion and City of San Antonio. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

Last Tuesday, the House Business and Industry Committee took up:

HB 621 by Victoria Neave (D-Dallas) would prohibit an employer from suspending, terminating, discriminating against, or take any other adverse employment action against a person who in good faith reports child abuse. In support were representatives of National Association of Social Workers, Texas Family Law Foundation, Texas Nurses Association, Texas CASA, Texas State Teachers Association, Texas Impact, Texas AFT, Upbring, Texas AFL-CIO, TexProtects, and Texas Classroom Teachers Association. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

Next Week: The House Business & Industry Committee will meet on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. or upon adjournment in E2.016 of the capitol extension to take up:

HB 133 by Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) would prohibit an employer from collecting or receiving any portion of a gratuity paid to or left for a tipped employee, including for the purpose of compensating a credit or debit card issuer for any financial services rendered on account of the gratuity.

HB 640 by Ana Hernandez (D-Houston) would require employers in the food and general retail industries that employ at least 50 employees and have at least 10 other retail establishments in other states to notify each hourly employee of the employee’s scheduled work shift at least two weeks before the shift is scheduled to begin.

PRIVACY:

This lastTuesday, the Senate Business and Commerce Committee took up:

SB 59 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would allow the capture of an image using an unmanned aircraft if the image is captured for the purpose of delivering consumer goods that were ordered through an Internet website or mobile application and the operator of the unmanned aircraft is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct operations within the airspace from which the image is captured. In support were representatives of TechNet, CompTIA Texas Retailers Association, Amazon.com, and Consumer Technology Association. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

Reported from Committee:

HB 125 by Armando “Mando” Martinez (D-Weslaco) would prohibit the Department of State Health Services from disclosing the home address of a licensed dyslexia practitioner, professional counselor, chemical dependency counselor or social worker without permission. It was voted out favorably from the House State Affairs Committee.

SB 73 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) would expand the definition of “instrument” to include any record recorded by a county clerk related to real property, including a mineral lease, a mechanic’s lien, and the release of a mechanic’s lien for purposes of determining personal information that may be omitted from property records related to title transfer. It was voted out favorably as substituted from the Senate State Affairs Committee.

SB 489 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would allow a federal or state judge or spouse of a federal or state judge to request that his/her home address be redacted from any report filed by the judge that is made available on the Internet. It was voted out favorably as substituted from the Senate State Affairs Committee.

Cybersecurity Protections for Schools – Last Friday, Representative Jay Dean (R-Longview) filed HB 2689 to coordinate cybersecurity responses for schools. HB 2689 would require school districts to designate a cybersecurity coordinator to be a liaison with the Texas Education Agency for the purposes of reporting attacks and employing best practices. Representative Dean said, “I filed HB 26789 out of concern for the growing threat of cyber-attacks on Independent School Districts (ISD’s).

Currently, there are no procedures in place to centralize the reporting and documentation of attacks against cyberinfrastructure. The bill stems from my work on the Select Committee on Cybersecurity. Schools house incredibly sensitive information about our children. From birth dates and addresses to social security numbers, all of these are highly prized and extremely valuable on the dark web.

We know these criminal hackers are going after it. Just last year the Dallas Morning News reported a data breach of 37 ISDs, five of which are in House District 7. We need to set in place reporting procedures and coordinate best practices to ensure the safety of our kids. With such an infrastructure in place, TEA would act as a centralized hub to track and categorize attacks, thereby improving the cybersecurity response.”

PROCUREMENT:

Reported from Committee:

HB 793 by Phil King (R-Weatherford) would clarify the law prohibiting government contracts with companies that boycott Israel to provide that it does not apply to a sole proprietorship and it only applies to a contract that is between a governmental entity and a company with 10 or more full-time employees; and has a value of $100,000 or more that is to be paid from public funds of the governmental entity. It was voted out favorably from the House State Affairs Committee.

SB 421 by Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) is an eminent domain reform bill. It would apply only to private entities with statutory eminent domain authority. It would:

  • add to the existing bona fide offer a requirement that the entity seeking to acquire the property certify that the offer is not a “low-ball” offer.
  • establish minimum easement terms including provisions covering damages for tree, recreational, or agricultural loss. Would require the Attorney General to prepare a standard easement form and allow the attorney general to enforce the use of the easement form in a suit for injunctive relief.
  • provide that if an entity seeks to acquire property from four or more landowners in the same county, the entity must notify the court with jurisdiction over condemnation proceedings. The court would have 30 days to select a date for a public meeting facilitated by the court at which the entity must present specified information, such as the description of the public use, easement terms, and the method and factors used in determining the market value. Entities would be prohibited from contacting landowners until the 8th day after the meeting. The court would have to certify that the entity held the meeting, and the entity could not acquire property until so certified.
  • impose penalties based on the difference between the entity’s initial offer and the special commissioners’ award. The penalty would be 25 percent if the award exceeds the offer by 25 – 50 percent; 30 percent for an award exceeding the offer by 50 – 100 percent; and 35 percent above that. The penalties would attach regardless of whether the entity objects to the special commissioners’ award or appeals to district court; and regardless of damages ultimately awarded by the court.

In support were representatives of Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Landowners for Eminent Domain Reform, Texas Farm Bureau, Wateridge Development, Texas for Reform and Freedom, League of Independent Voters, The Halifax Ranch, Kaddatz Farms, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Big Bend Conservation Alliance, Texas Press Association, Texas Land and Mineral Owners Association, Texas Association of Realtors, Texas Consumer Association, Texas Corn Producers Association, Texas Forestry Association, Texas Real Estate Advocacy and Defense Coalition, Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, Public Citizen, Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, Texas Poultry Federation, Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association, Independent Cattlemen of Texas, and Texas Grain Sorghum Association. In opposition were representatives of South Texas Energy and Economic Roundtable, Texas Association of Manufacturers, North Harris County Regional Water Authority, Conoco Phillips Company, Enterprise Products, Texas Royalty Council, Burlington Resources Oil and Gas Company, Institute for Policy Innovation, Texas Association of Business, Texas Civil Justice League, Coalition for Critical Infrastructure, Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, Targa Pipeline, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, Association of Electric Companies of Texas, Permian Basin Petroleum Association, Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, North Texas Commission, Texas Pipeline Association, Texas Rural Water Association, Valero, Concho Resources, BP America, Dallas Regional Chamber, Texas Pipeline Association, Devon Energy, Centennial Resource Development, City of El Paso, Plains All American Pipeline, Nustar Energy, BPA Midstream Association, Halliburton, QEP Resources, Blackbrush Oil and Gas, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Greater Houston Partnership, Energy Transfer, Encana Oil and Gas, Port of Freeport, Marathon Oil Corporation, Howard Energy Partners, Anadarko Petroleum, Millberg Farm, Occidental Petroleum, Association of Energy Service Companies, Exxon Mobil, Koch Companies, Phillips ^^, Chevron Pipeline and Power, Cimarex, Texas Chemical Council, Mark West Logistics, Apache Corporation, Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association, Shell, Central Harris County Regional Water Authority, CenterPoint, Port of Corpus Christi, and Atmos Pipeline. It was left pending.

SB 498 by Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would authorize a commercial landlord to revoke a lease if a tenant is operating, maintaining, or advertising a massage establishment that is not in compliance with state or local licensing requirements. In support were representatives of Children at Risk, Houston Police Department, City of Houston, and Christian Life Commission. There was no opposition. It was voted out favorably as substituted.

PUBLIC EDUCATION:

This past Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee took up:

SB 11 by Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) would establish several new programs and requirements related to improving public school safety and student mental health. In support were representatives of Texas School Counselors Association, Texas Counseling Association, Mental Health America of Greater Houston, Texas Association of School Psychologists, Texas Association of School Administrators, Texas PTA, Texas Classroom Teachers Association, Texas Association of School Psychologists, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Texas Council of Community Centers, Association of Texas Professional Educators and Arlington, Wylie and Texas City ISD’s. In opposition were representatives of Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, Dallas Eagle Forum, Students Demand Action and 12 individuals. It was left pending.

SB 406 by Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) would clarify the authority of a school marshal to carry a concealed handgun on the physical premises of the school. In support were representatives of Open Carry Texas, Texas Private Schools Association, Fredericksburg Tea Party, Wylie and Lovejoy ISD’s, and three individuals. In opposition were representatives of Students Demand Action, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Children’s Defense Fund, Texas State Teachers Association, League of Women Voters of Texas, Texas American Federation of Teachers and 11 individuals. It was left pending.

SB 811 by Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) would provide immunity from liability for school districts and charters for any damages resulting from a reasonable action taken by security personnel to maintain the safety of the school campus, including an action relating to possession or use of a firearm. The immunity would also apply to district or school employees who have written permission from the school district’s governing body to carry a firearm on campus. In support were representatives of Texas Private Schools Association, Texas Charter Schools Association, Lovejoy ISD and one individual. In opposition were representatives of Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Americans for Parental Equality, Students Demand Action and 12 individuals. It was left pending.

Also, this past Tuesday, the House Public Education Committee took up:

HB 525 by Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) would eliminate the requirement for fourth and seventh grade writing assessments and eighth grade social studies assessments and the end of course exams for English II and United States history. It was left pending.

HB 671 by Ken King (R-Canadian) would eliminate end-of-course exams and other assessments not required by federal law. It was left pending.

HB 843 by Drew Springer (R-Muenster) would allow postsecondary readiness assessment instruments to be used by Texas Education Agency for accountability purposes and would add students who successfully complete an internship, students who are awarded an associate degree and students who satisfy performance standards on Algebra II or English III to be considered for accountability purposes. It was left pending.

HB 851 by Dan Huberty (R-Humble) would eliminate the sunset date (September 1, 2019) on statutes authorizing the use of individual graduation committees and alternative methods to satisfy high school graduation requirements. It was left pending.

HB 1244 by Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) would require school districts to administer a civics test to a student in the foundation high school program and make it a requirement for high school graduation. The civics test would consist of all of the questions on the civics test administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of the naturalization process. It was initially left pending, but was voted out favorably on Wednesday.

HB 1480 by Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) would require school districts to establish an accelerated learning committee for each student who does not perform satisfactorily on the third grade mathematics or reading assessment. It was left pending.

Passed the Senate:

SB 3 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) would:

  • Provide a permanent $5,000 annual salary increase above their 2018-2019 school year salary to approximately 350,000 classroom teachers;
  • Direct that the pay increase is paid for by the state with funding flowing through a new Classroom Teacher Salary Allotment;
  • Stipulate that the additional state funding must pass through districts for the sole purpose of raising each classroom teacher’s pay by $5,000 over their salary for the 2018-19 school year;
  • Clarify that it does not preclude districts from offering merit raises; and
  • Have an estimated cost of $3.7 billion in the FY 20-21 budget.

The committee substitute and one floor amendment were adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously.

Reported from Committee:

HB 76 by Dan Huberty (R-Katy) would require high school student athletes to receive a physical exam that includes an electrocardiogram before being allowed to participate in a sports activity. It was voted out favorably as substituted from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 92 by Eddie Rodriguez (D- Austin) would allow a campus turnaround plan to operate as a community school that provides strategies and programs to coordinate academic, social, and health services that reduce barriers to learning including:

  • early childhood education;
  • after-school and summer school academic and enrichment programs;
  • college and career preparation;
  • service learning opportunities including internships and community service programs;
  • leadership and mentoring programs;
  • activities to encourage community and parent engagement in students’ education;
  • health and social services for students and their families; and
  • parenting classes.

It would prohibit the commissioner from ordering the closure of a campus without giving the campus the opportunity to operate as a community school. It was voted out favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 102 by Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) would make several changes to teacher mentoring statutes including:

  • requiring mentor teachers to demonstrate interpersonal skills, instructional effectiveness, and leadership ability;
  • requiring school districts to provide training that includes content related to best mentorship practices to mentor teachers and other district and campus employees that work with classroom teachers;
  • requiring mentor teachers to meet with each classroom teacher assigned to the mentor at least once a week for at least 45 minutes;
  • requiring school districts to schedule release time or a reduced teaching load for mentor teachers to facilitate mentoring activities;
  • instituting a mentor program allotment for school districts that have implemented a mentoring program for classroom teachers who have less than two years of teaching experience to fund the mentoring program and provide stipends for mentor teachers with the amount of the formula determined by the commissioner; and
  • requiring teachers that are assigned as a mentor to agree to serve as a mentor teacher for at least two school years.

It was voted out favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 109 by Armando “Mando” Martinez (D-Weslaco) would apply the statute prohibiting classes on Memorial Day to open-enrollment charter schools. It was voted out favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 111 by Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) would require training for school employees to include prevention of sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and other maltreatment of children with significant cognitive disabilities in both educational and non-educational settings. It was voted out favorably as substituted from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 116 by Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) would require the State Board of Educator Certification to adopt rules specifying what each educator is expected to know and be able to do, particularly regarding students with disabilities. It was voted out favorably as substituted from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 128 by Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) would require school districts to provide parents with a copy of the results of the physical fitness assessment of the parent’s child by the last day of the school year. It was voted out favorably as substituted from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 165 by Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) would allow special education students to earn an endorsement on the student’s transcript by successfully completing curriculum and endorsement requirements identified by the State Board of Education, with or without modification by the student’s admission, review, and dismissal committee. It was voted out favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 239 by Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) would authorize a social worker to provide social work services to students and families in a school district. It was voted out favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 314 by Donna Howard (D-Austin) would allow compensatory education allotment funding to be used to provide child-care services or assistance with child-care expenses for students at risk of dropping out of school or pay the costs associated with services provided through a life shills program; and would require the Commissioner of Education to adopt rules including pregnancy as a reason a student withdraws from or otherwise no longer attends public school in the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS). It was voted out favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 330 by Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) would exclude students who have suffered a condition, injury or illness that requires substantial medical care and leaves the student unable to attend school from the dropout and completion rate calculations. It was voted out favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 396 by Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) would prohibit money in the instructional materials and technology fund to be used to pay the expenses associated with intrastate freight and shipping; and would allow funding to be used to pay for inventory of software or systems for storing and accessing instructional materials. It was voted out favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 403 by Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) would require training for school superintendents and trustees regarding sexual abuse, human trafficking, and other maltreatment of children. It was voted out favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 422 by Alma Allen (D-Houston) would require school boards to annually certify to the Texas Education Agency that the board has established the required district- and campus-level planning and decision-making committees. It was voted out favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 455 by Alma Allen (D-Houston) would require Texas Education Agency to develop model policies on the recess period during the school day that encourages constructive, age-appropriate outdoor playtime that maximizes the effectiveness of outdoor physical activity; and would require school districts to adopt a recess policy based on the model policies. It was voted out favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 638 by Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller) would establish procedures for a high school diploma to be issued posthumously to a student that dies while enrolled in the school district. It was voted out favorably as substituted from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 674 by Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) would require school districts to report to the Commissioner of Education information on the district’s reliance on education service centers in complying with federal and state education laws and rules and indicate the specific federal or state education laws or rules for which compliance is the most burdensome and expensive. It was voted out favorably as substituted from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 678 by Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would add a course in American Sign Language completed at an elementary school to count for one credit toward an elective course for graduation. It was voted out favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

Texas Plan to Transform School Finance – On Tuesday, Representative Dan Huberty (R-Humble), Chairman of the House Public Education Committee, held a press conference announcing the filing of HB 3, a comprehensive school finance reform bill. Speaker Dennis Bonnen kicked off the press conference saying, “I applaud Chairman Huberty for filing HB 3 and for getting the Texas House one step closer to passing transformational school finance reform. Texas children can no longer wait for action – the time is now. Chairman Huberty has worked tirelessly to thoughtfully craft this legislation that is built upon years of research, data, and testimony.

I applaud his commitment to Texas students and teachers, and know that through HB 3, the unprecedented investments we’re making in classrooms will elevate Texas’ education system to be the envy of the world.” Representative Huberty said, “This is transformative. This is going to make a difference. The steps laid out in HB 3 will inject nearly $9 billion into the system, devoting more state revenue than ever before to the education of our 5.4 million public school children in Texas.

I am honored to present this legislation and look forward to working with the more than 80 House members who have already signed on to co-author this bill.” More than half of the members of the House stood in support of Chairman Huberty, and Representatives Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio), Ken King (R-Canadian), Alma Allen (D-Houston), and Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) joined Chairman Huberty in delivering remarks in support of HB 3.

Specifically HB 3 would:

  • Add approximately $9 billion in funding above enrollment growth and current law entitlement over the next two years;
  • Increase the Basic Allotment from $5,140 to $6,030, an $890 increase per student;
  • Lower school property tax rates by 4 cents statewide;
  • Reduce recapture from $7.7 billion to $4.7 billion for the biennium ($3 billion or 38 percent reduction);
  • Establish an early reading program that funds full-day, high quality Pre-K for low-income students;
  • Raise the minimum teacher salary schedule and allocate an addition $140 million in funding for a teacher quality program, providing districts with the resources for recruiting and retaining teachers in the classroom;
  • Enhance the yield on the “enrichment” pennies, allowing schools to earn and keep more money for property taxes levied above the standard Tier 1 tax rate;
  • Create a professional development grant program to train teachers in blended learning instruction;
  • Dedicate more money for dual language immersion education;
  • Equip districts with the resources needed to identify and intervene at the earliest signs of student dyslexia and related disorders;
  • Establish an extended year program that allows districts to combat “summer slide” by providing 30 days of half-day instruction for students in grades PreK-5 during the summer months;
  • Update the transportation funding model from a linear density model to a simplified one dollar per mile reimbursement;
  • Allocate resources to low-income students on a sliding scale (rather than an equal weight) to prioritize students with the highest needs, and provide more funding to schools with higher concentrations of economically disadvantaged students and generational poverty;
  • Quadruple the amount allocated to fast growth districts to build and equip new instructional facilities funding to $100 million per year;
  • Expand career and technology education programs for students in grades 6-12 (previously grades 9-12), making students more skilled and better prepared for the workforce or post-secondary education; and
  • Establish a grant program for districts to offer parents of economically disadvantaged students with learning disabilities in grades 3-8 access to additional services to help improve educational performance.

Governor Greg Abbott said, “We have an obligation to students, parents, and teachers to reform our school finance system and elevate education in Texas. We promised Texans that this session would be transformative and address big issues like school finance and property tax reform, and today’s announcement by Chairman Huberty is a big step in honoring that pledge. I look forward to working with Chairman Huberty, as well as Lieutenant Governor Patrick, Speaker Bonnen, Senator Taylor and all members to better fund our schools, increase teacher pay, and put our students on a pathway to greater academic success.”

TAX:

This past Tuesday, the Senate Property Tax Committee took up:

SB 955 by Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) would remove the authority for a taxing unit to challenge the overall level of appraisal of a category of property. In support were representatives of Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, Ryan LLC, Texas Association of Realtors, Texas Association of Property Tax Professionals, Association of Electric Companies of Texas, Texas Association of Manufacturers, Citizens for Appraisal reform and two individuals. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

SB 956 by Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) would authorize an appraisal review board to correct an inaccuracy in the appraised value of tangible personal property that is the result of an error or omission in a rendition statement. In support were representatives of Ryan LLC, Texas Association of Property Tax Professionals, Association of Electric Companies of Texas, Texas Association of Manufacturers, Citizens for Appraisal Reform and two individuals. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

SB 1006 by Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) would exempt income-producing tangible personal property from ad valorem taxes if it has a taxable value of less than $2,500 instead of $500. In support were representatives of Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, Ryan LLC, Texas Association of Property Tax Professionals, Association of Electric Companies of Texas, Texas Association of Manufacturers, Citizens for Appraisal Reform, Texas Association of Appraisal Districts, National Federation of Independent Business, and two individuals. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

On Wednesday, the House Ways & Means Committee took up:

HB 569 by Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller) would require school district tax bills to break out the percentages of taxes used to make recapture payments compared to amounts retained by the school district, and to show comparisons of the current tax year to previous tax years. It was left pending.

HB 639 by Drew Springer (R-Muenster) would restrict the eligibility of property used by an institution of higher education for ecological research to be appraised as open space that to land that has been used primarily for that purpose by the institution for five of the preceding seven years. It was left pending.

HB 994 by Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would institute a pilot program in Atascosa County allowing small property tax protests to be appealed to a Justice of the Peace court. It was left pending.

Reported from Committee:

HB 305 by Dennis Paul (R-Webster) would require state agencies and political subdivisions that have taxing authority to create a publicly accessible Internet website providing the entity’s contact information, including phone, address, and email; each elected officer, each candidate for elective office, the date and location of the next election, and notice of each open meeting of the governing board. It was voted out favorably as substituted from the House State Affairs Committee.

HB 705 by Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) would authorize a county to adopt or abolish a sales tax by voter approval of up to one percent to offset a reduction in property taxes. The committee substitute adds cities. It was reported favorably as substituted from the House Ways and Means Committee.

TORT:

This past Monday, the House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee took up:

HB 36 by Lina Ortega (D-El Paso) would provide for expedited court proceedings in a suit related to enforcement of an ordinance related to a dangerously damaged or deteriorated structure. In support were representatives of Texas Municipal League, Texas Apartment Association, Texas Association of Builders and the Cities of Fort Worth, Galveston, El Paso, Corpus Christi, Austin, Houston, McKinney, Sugar Land, Irving, San Antonio and Plano. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

HB 516 by Drew Springer (R-Muenster) would prohibit a cause of action against a property owner, manager or lessee that allows a handgun license holder to bring a handgun onto the property. In support were representatives of Texas State Rifle Association, Republican Party of Texas, Dallas Police Association, Houston First, Texas Association of Business, Texas Apartment Association, Gun Owners of America, National Rifle Association, City of Fort Worth, Lone Star Gun Rights, Game Warden Peace Officers Association, and Texas Municipal League. In opposition were representatives of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, League of Women Voters of Texas, and Texas Gun Sense. It was left pending.

HB 685 by Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches) would provide that a court clerk and the county commissioners of a county in which the court is located are immune from liability for the release or disclosure of confidential information by a third party that is information accessed from a state court document database that is properly maintained by the county. In support were representatives of County and District Clerk’s Association of Texas, Texas Conference of Urban Counties, Texans for Lawsuit Reform and Harris, Travis, Brazos, Dallas, Leon and Tarrant Counties. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

Reported from Committee:

HB 71 by Armando “Mando” Martinez (D-Weslaco) would authorize the establishment of a regional transit authority in a county that is contiguous to the Gulf of Mexico and borders Mexico. It was voted out favorably from the House Transportation Committee.

Next Week: The House International Relations & Economic Development Committee will meet on Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. in E2.014 of the capitol extension to take up:

HB 260 by Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) would require the Texas Department of Public Safety in collaboration with the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M to develop a website with real-time information on traffic and congestion at ports of entry between Texas and Mexico.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION:

This past Tuesday, the House Business and Industry Committee took up:

HB 387 by Philip Cortez (D-San Antonio) would allow an advanced practice registered nurse to complete and sign work status reports on behalf of a treating doctor. New legislation passed last session allowed physician’s assistants to perform the same task. In support were representatives of Texas Nurse Practitioners, Texas Nurses Association, Texas Orthopaedic Association, Concentra, and Texas Academy of Physician Assistants. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

WORKFORCE:

This past Monday, the House Defense & Veterans’ Affairs Committee took up:

HB 696 by Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) would require the Texas Workforce Commission to establish and administer the Operation Welcome Home program to expedite the entry of veterans and military service members into the workforce through the use of enhanced employment services by building partnerships between military transition centers and local workforce development boards and providing services related to education, career technical training, and entrepreneurship.

In support were representatives of Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations, Texas Council of Chapters of the Military Officers Association of America, American Legion, United Ways of Texas, Texas Association of Business, Texas Council of Community Centers, Texas Association of Builders, National Federation of Independent Business, Harris County, and three individuals. There was no opposition. It was left pending.

Next Week: The House International Relations & Economic Development Committee will meet on Monday, March 11, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. in E2.014 of the Capitol extension to take up:

HB 680 by Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont) would require the Texas Workforce Commission’s evaluation of local workforce development boards to include the estimated cost incurred by child care providers in the workforce development area; the average price charged by child care providers for child care in each area; and the number of places that are reserved for participants in the child care subsidy program compared to the total number of children served by that provider.