There's officially less than 40 days left of the 86th Legislative Session! Just in April alone, the Texas House has passed HB1, the House's proposed budget for the next 2 years, HB 3, the House's plan investing $6.3 billion into public education, and I've laid out over 10 bills in committee.
So far, the Texas House has worked hard to create and pass legislation that will support our public schools and teachers, while providing much needed property tax relief to Texas families. Meanwhile, the Texas Senate is considering bills like SB 9, which would impose additional restrictions on disabled, elderly, and absentee voters. SB 2485 and SB 2487 are headed to the House, which would override local governments from establishing paid sick leave ordinances. I'll keep you updated on the progress of any bad bills that come to the House floor.
My bill, HB 128, is heading to the Texas Senate. This bill would provide parents and guardians guaranteed access to their children's physical fitness assessments results. Under current law, schools are required to perform a yearly physical fitness assessment for students in the third grade or older.
Here's a quick recap about the six bills I've laid out in committee just this week:
HB 3281, which seeks to prohibit the use of a victim's gender identity or sexual orientation as the basis for a legal defense, commonly known as "gay panic." Thank you to all the LGBTQ advocates who stayed late to share their experience, testify in support of HB 3281, and state no person should ever have their identity used as a defense to commit a crime against them.
HB 1564, would provide support services to individuals who are Deaf or Blind by creating a support services provider (SSP) program at the Health and Human Services Commission.
HB 2960, seeks to prohibit the use of non-compete agreements for low-wage employees. The AFL-CIO, Catholic Charities of Central Texas, Texas Riogrande Legal Aide and Bill Beardall provided strong expert testimony in the committee hearing that revealed how non-compete agreements for low-wage employees unnecessarily constrain the trade of low-wage employees who are simply trying to earn a living.
HB 3653, seeks to allow the Texas Facilities Commission to sell the underperforming asset of the Hobby Building.
HB 2797 would define specialized campuses, like the Rosedale School in District 49, and allow these campuses to develop alternative accountability plans in order to best serve its student population by ensuring these kids are assessed correctly by the TEA.
HB 1130 would authorize the creation of a Register to Vote specialty license plate.
Revenue collected from the issuance of the license plates would be directed to Project VOTE, the Secretary of State's student voter education program.
Last week, I joined forces with the Texas AFL-CIO and Our Revolution to host The People's Committee Meeting in support of the Healthy Texas Act. Texas is leading the country (yes, you read that right!), with our efforts to establish a single-payer healthcare system. Out of the six legislatures with bills like our Healthy Texas Act, Texas is the only state which has had a hearing! With each session, we are making progress towards providing affordable healthcare options for millions of Texas.
HD 49 Engagement Team Meetings
Two of our engagement team meetings met last week! The Democracy and Equality team met and discussed SB 15 which would ban cities from implementing employment benefit ordinances. We also discussed the committee substitute that would remove specific language that would ensure that existing non-discrimination ordinances are not undercut or eliminated. The Democracy and Equality team strategized around SB 17, the anti-LGBTQ legislation which would create “religious exemptions” for virtually every licensed occupation in Texas. If an occupational license holder were to call on “sincerely held religious belief” in taking a discriminatory action, the licensing agency that oversees the occupation would have no recourse to remedy that discrimination. Lastly, we gave a status report on two of my bills, HB 3281 (limiting the use of a victim’s gender identity or sexual orientation as the basis for a defense in a trial) and HB 375 (additional polling locations on college campuses).
The Education for All team's discussion centered mainly on the House public school finance bill HB 3 (The Texas Plan). The team also discussed my bill HB 43, which would prohibit charter schools from discriminating on the basis of an applicant’s disciplinary history when considering admissions to their institutions (Passed out of committee this week!). In addition, we also discussed my other charter school related bill HB 2510. This bill would align requirements for charter school suspensions and expulsions, such as the length of time a student may be suspended and the conduct that may be punishable by expulsion, with the rules traditional public schools are already required to follow.
There are less than 7 weeks left in session so we're getting down to the wire! Our team will be following any bad bills that come before the Texas House and alert you via email or on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you to everyone who has come to the Capitol to submit or testify in support or opposition to bills this session. Please feel free to contact my office at 512-463-0668 anytime with questions.