status-tx-bills

Status of bills before TX leg

No voucher bill in regular session! Our calls helped!

The end of House Bill 100 is a bittersweet victory for public education advocates who vehemently oppose school voucher programs but lament that schools won’t get additional funds to pay for teacher raises or balance their budgets.

A multibillion-dollar school funding bill that became a last-ditch effort to enact a voucher-like program in the state — a priority for Gov. Greg Abbott this legislative session — died Saturday after lawmakers failed to reach a compromise before a key deadline. Read more

HB 100, the school voucher bill

We stopped Abbott & Patrick’s Last Ditch Effort On School Vouchers!

This weekend, May 27-28, a Conference Committee in the Texas Legislature engaged in final negotiations on HB 100, a bill to fund the state’s public education system. HB 100 had originally been the vehicle for modest teacher pay raises when it passed the Texas House — not the much-needed larger pay raises Texas Democrats had advocated for to keep up with inflation and get teachers their fair share.

Texas Senate Republicans hijacked the school funding bill and slipped in a massive poison pill — after school vouchers failed time and time again, Republicans have tacked on their school voucher scheme into this bill as one last Hail Mary.

This is especially important for rural communities, where several Republicans have signaled willingness to cross party lines and vote against this voucher scheme that would disproportionately harm rural Texas.

In addition to school vouchers, HB 100 did not raise funding for Texas public schools or any significant teacher pay raises.

On Tuesday, May 23, the Texas House of Representatives reached a critical midnight deadline. Senate bills that did not pass the House by then are dead for this session. 

We can breathe a small sigh of relief knowing that SB 990, SB 1039, and SB 1185 are now dead. SB 990 would have banned countywide voting, forcing every Election Day voter to vote at their assigned polling place near their home. SB 1039 would have given the Secretary of State the authority to sidestep local election officials and appoint a conservator to oversee local elections, and SB 1185 would have allowed our indicted (and potentially soon-to-be impeached) Attorney General to substitute his judgment and prosecute election cases local prosecutors didn’t believe were strong enough to pursue. Hopefully, we never have to see those bills again.

However, a number of election-related Senate bills did pass the House this week, including:

  • SB 1933:  Would allow the Secretary of State to give orders to and overrule decisions of local election officials, and even remove the non-partisan local election administrator in certain circumstances. The bill was amended to narrow the scope of who can file a complaint and require documentation of the problems used to justify this takeover by the Secretary of State. At the last second, an amendment was added that means this bill would only apply to Harris County. Because the House and the Senate passed different versions of this bill, they now have to negotiate over final language and both chambers have to pass it again before the deadline on Sunday, 5/28.
  • SB 1750: Eliminates the Election Administrator role in Harris County, overruling the democratically elected Harris County Commissioners’ decision to centralize and professionalize elections in their county. This bill is on its way to the Governor’s desk.
  • SB 1070: Texas would quit its membership in ERIC, the only interstate data exchange that helps states keep the voter rolls accurate and helps new Texans and those who move get registered at their new address. Rep. Bucy amended the bill to require any vendor to comply with the National Voter Registration Act and Help America Vote Act. The amendment also included guardrails to ensure that any employees of potential vendors pass a background check. The Senate has not yet voted on concurrence or conference committee.
  • SB 477: Would expand disability access for Texas voters, including improving procedures for curbside voting. This bill is on its way to the Governor’s desk.
  • SB 1599: Would make some administrative improvements to the mail voting process. Sen. Hughes (R) originally sought to reduce the number of days voters have to fix problems with their mail ballot from the current six days after the election to two days, but he accepted Sen. Miles’ (D) amendment to maintain the current mail ballot “cure period.” This bill is on its way to the Governor’s desk.

Effort to fix payroll error for state National Guard troops falls short in Texas Senate by James Barragán 

Texas House passes bill aimed at keeping kids from seeing sexually explicit performances by William Melhado and Alex Nguyen 

Via KERA News: Dallas-based pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Ximena Lopez, a leader in gender-affirming care, is closing her practice and leaving the state. Lopez cited a growing threat to treatment in Texas as the Legislature targets transgender health care. 

 

This past Wednesday, May 24, was the last day for the Senate to consider all bills on 2nd or 3rd reading. Any bills that did not make it past the deadline are now dead. Elections-related bills that passed the Senate this week are:

  • HB 1243: Would increase the penalty for illegal voting from a Class A misdemeanor to a second-degree felony, and was amended to change the intent standard. We expect this bill will go to a conference committee.
  • HB 1299: Would require voters to sign their mail ballot envelopes using ink on paper. Electronic signatures are already prohibited, so the only thing this bill might change is to give additional opportunities to overzealous Ballot Board members to throw out valid mail ballots cast by eligible Texas citizens. This bill is on its way to the Governor’s desk. 
  • HB 315: Would add a statement to the mail ballot application explaining the benefits of furnishing personal information, including how that information assists the early voting clerk. This bill is on its way to the Governor’s desk.
  • HB 357: The House passed a version that would make the online mail ballot tracker easier to use and work for more Texans. The Senate passed an amended version of the bill which added more onerous requirements. This bill will go to a conference committee.

A majority of the remaining legislative work will be done via conference committee. As a chamber makes changes to a bill that originated in the other chamber, changes must be reconciled between the two chambers. For example: as the finally passed House version of the appropriations bill is amended in the Senate, and is finally passed there, the bill must come back to the House for its membership to approve of the Senate changes, or appoint a conference committee. 

Conference committees are some of the least transparent processes in the Texas legislative process. The Speaker and Lt. Governor appoint members to negotiate details of the legislation, but as you can imagine, they often don’t meet in person and handle negotiations via email, between staffers.

Monday, May 29, is the end of the session, with the threat of a special session to deal with the Paxton indictment.

In the News

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🎙️ Review the 2023 legislative session with Texas Tribune reporters at a
LIVE TribCast recording on May 30

Join us online and in Studio 919 at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 30, for a special live recording of TribCast, the Tribune’s weekly podcast. After the 2023 regular legislative session comes to a close, managing editor Matthew Watkins will host a lively conversation with Tribune reporters and staff about the major policy debates of the session, how each political party fared and what happens this fall when new legislation goes into effect.

RSVP today.

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