The actions of legislative bodies can have a profound effect on the education and well-being of children. The Fort Worth ISD Council of PTAs supports Texas PTA in its efforts to serve as the voice for Texas children in many legislative endeavors. Texas PTA supports legislation that improves health, well-being and educational opportunities for every child. Successful implementation of our legislative positions is characterized by people working together to assure wise legislative decisions through knowledge of the process and an understanding of the issues.
During the 86th legislative session, 1429 bills made it to the Governor’s office – that’s only 19% of the total bills filed in the House and Senate. June 16, 2019, was the deadline for Gov. Abbott to sign or veto a bill. Only about 1 in 5 bills makes it out of regular session alive. All the more reason to celebrate Texas PTA’s legislative victories this session! Texas PTA with the help of our Governmental Affairs Team, Arnold Public Affairs, tracked 776 bills this session involving public education and the welfare of our students. 623 of those bills were heard in committee and 139 passed and awaited final approval/veto by the Governor.
Public School Funding System Reform
- HB 1, authored by Rep. John Zerwas, the bill that sets the state’s budget for the next two years, has been signed by the Governor. An additional $11.5B will be spent in the next two years to reduce school property taxes, increase teacher pay, and increase state aid to school districts.
- HB 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty, the landmark school finance and education reform legislation, has been signed by the Governor.
Read addendum to this section.
Special Education Funding
- HB 3, authored by Rep. Dan Huberty, increases the funding weight for students who receive special education services in mainstream classes from $1.1 per student to $1.15 per student – generating around $85M per year in new dollars.
- SB 712 by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., relating to prohibiting the use of certain behavioral interventions on students enrolled in public school who receive special education services, has been signed by the Governor.
- HB 4242, authored by Rep. Diego Bernal, authorizing an audit of the readability of the questions on the STAAR, died in the Senate, but language survived in HB 3 to require an audit of STAAR questions. HB 3 has been signed by the Governor.
- HB 3906 by Rep. Dan Huberty, relating to the adoption and administration of STAAR, was amended by Conference Committee and has been signed by the Governor.
T21, Raise the Age to 21 for Tobacco Purchases
- SB 21, authored by Sen. Joan Huffman, raising the age to 21 to purchase tobacco products including e-cigarettes and Juuling devices, has been signed by the Governor. SB 21 exempts persons under the age of 21 who are in the military and prohibits a municipality from raising the age to purchase tobacco products above the age of 21.
- SB 11, authored by Sen. Larry Taylor, relating to policies, procedures, and measures for school safety and mental health promotion in public schools, making an appropriation, has been signed by the Governor. Much of what is in the bill was advocated for by Texas PTA leadership in hearings throughout the session.
- HB 2195 by Rep. Morgan Meyer, relating to an active shooter emergency policy for school districts, has been signed by the Governor.
- HB 2813 by Rep. Four Price, relating to the Statewide Behavioral Health Coordinating Council, has been signed by the Governor. The bill permanently establishes the Council, created in 2015, in statute.
Student Mental Health
- SB 10, authored by Sen. Jane Nelson, relating to the creation of the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium, was amended onto SB 11, the school safety bill, and signed by the Governor.
- HB 18 by Rep. Four Price, relating to consideration of the mental health of public school students in training requirements for certain school employees, curriculum requirements, counseling programs, and educational programs, has been signed by the Governor.
- HB 19 by Rep. Four Price, relating to mental health and substance use resources for certain school districts, has been signed by the Governor.
- HB 906 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, relating to the establishment of a collaborative task force to study certain public school mental health services, has been signed by the Governor.
- HB 1070 by Rep. Four Price, relating to the mental health first aid training program reporting requirements, has been signed by the Governor.
- HB 3012, authored by Rep. James Talarico, relating to requiring the provision of instruction to public school students subject to in-school or out-of-school suspension, has been signed by the Governor.
Literacy by 3rd Grade
- HB 3, authored by Rep. Dan Huberty, contains several components designed to increase the number of students who are reading and writing on grade level by third grade. The bill funds full day PreK for all low-income students and English language learners and allows districts to seek a waiver to the requirement for up to six years if seat availability is an issue. All districts must use one of two Kindergarten-ready assessments to monitor continuous improvements in PreK quality.
- SB 1679 by Sen. Royce West, relating to the eligibility of certain children for free PreK programs in public schools, has been signed by the Governor.
Individual Graduation Committee
- SB 213, authored by Sen. Kel Seliger, extending the life of the Individual Graduation Committee Program to September 1, 2023, has been signed by the Governor.
- SB 72, authored by Sen. Jane Nelson, relating to the establishment and duties of the human trafficking prevention coordinating council, has been signed by the Governor.
- HB 111 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez, relating to training for employees of school districts and open-enrollment charter schools on the prevention of sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and other maltreatment of certain children, has been signed by the Governor.
- HB 292 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, relating to the inclusion of instruction on the trafficking of persons in the basic training curriculum for peace officers, has been signed by the Governor.
- HB 403 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, relating to training requirements for a member of the board of trustees and the superintendent of a school district regarding sexual abuse, human trafficking, and other maltreatment of children, has been signed by the Governor.
- HCR 35 by Rep. Rick Miller, a resolution recognizing human trafficking as a public health issue, has been signed by the Governor.
- HB 455, authored by Rep. Alma Allen, relating to policies on the recess period in public schools, has been vetoed by the Governor. Governor’s Statement: “I appreciate the good intentions behind House Bill 455, and there is no disputing the educational and health benefits of recess during the school day. But requiring the State and its school districts to churn out more policies and mandates about recess is just bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake.”
Legislation That Threatened PTAs in Texas
- HB 281 / SB 29 by Rep. Mayes Middleton and Sen. Bob Hall, relating to expenditures for lobbying by certain entities, died in session.
Campus Immunization Reporting
Legislation to require school campuses to report on the number of students who are not immunized received a hearing in the Senate but was not brought up for a vote. The House bill did not receive a hearing. Current law requires campuses to report on the number of students who are not immunized, but the information is shared by school district totals. Parents with immune-suppressed children cannot easily make a determination about which campus would be safest for their children without access to numbers by campus. This legislation failed to pass this session.
Juvenile Justice Reform
Legislation to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years failed to pass this session.
Keep Public Dollars in Public Schools
No legislation passed to establish a voucher program in Texas.
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