Latest Capitol Updates

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Legislature adjourns a day early, passes school finance and TRS-Care legislation | August 16, 2017 - 11:52am

The House surprised many observers Tuesday evening by adjourning "sine die" (indicating the final day), a day before the last possible day of the special session. The Senate followed suit soon after. While several of the governor's priority issues passed, several did not, including property tax reform, bathroom bill, payroll deduction prohibition, and vouchers. But the legislature sent a school finance/TRS-Care bill on to the governor before shutting down the session.

House, Senate move into final negotiations on education issues | August 15, 2017 - 12:06pm

The Senate worked into the night Monday to pass HB 21 (school finance) and HB 30 (funding for the school finance bill), approving its own revised versions of the bills and sending them on to the House. The House can either concur with the Senate changes or request a conference committee.

House rejects payroll deduction amendment to school finance commission bill | August 14, 2017 - 5:20pm

A bill to create a school finance commission to study the state's system of funding public schools became a "Christmas tree" for a variety of legislators' pet causes, with several amendments adding topics to the subjects that are to be studied by the commission. The bill passed on an initial vote of 142-2.

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The federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act, requires states to submit ESSA plans to the U.S. Department of Education for review and approval by Sept. 18, 2017. The Texas Education Agency posted its proposed plan for public comment; comments are due by Aug. 29, 2017.

Hundreds of teachers and public education supporters braved the heat July 17 to attend a rally organized by Texans for Public Education and sponsored by many teacher groups, including TCTA.

Teacher pay and benefits have been added to the agenda of the special session that begins July 18. But if a bill passes, it might not be quite what you are expecting based on the initial concept of a “$1,000 teacher pay raise” that was rolled out earlier this summer. Any meaningful pay raise proposal will be difficult to implement unless the House and Senate can agree on school funding issues.

More details have been released about the education issues to be considered in the upcoming special session. The "$1,000 teacher pay raise" has morphed into an increase in average salaries and benefits and a "more flexible and rewarding" system. TCTA urges teachers to visit legislators now; you can also write, email, call or attend one of two upcoming rallies.

Prompted by a May 3, 2017, settlement of lawsuits filed by TCTA and two other statewide teacher groups over teacher appraisal requirements, TEA agreed to eliminate from its teacher appraisal rules the requirement to use one or more of the specified student growth measures in individual teacher appraisals, for both the state-recommended and locally developed appraisal systems. TEA recently issued new guidance to reflect the changes. Click here to read more.

Governor Abbott has now acted on (signed or vetoed) all bills. Unless otherwise noted, all of the Senate bills below were signed and will go into effect immediately or for the 2017-18 school year.

Ten Texas teacher certification examinations will be eliminated as of Sept. 1, according to the Texas Education Agency. Even though these certificates won’t continue to be issued after August, they are still maintained by TEA as valid certificates for the same teaching assignments, and teachers currently holding them can continue to teach in those assignments and are not affected by this change.

This list comprises House bills that have been sent to the governor. Governor Abbott has now acted on (signed or vetoed) all bills. Unless otherwise noted, all bills below were signed and will go into effect immediately or for the 2017-18 school year.

2012-13 TCTA State President Nanette Sissney is one of three former TRS trustees who will be considered by Gov. Greg Abbott when he makes appointments to the TRS Board in the upcoming months. Sissney was the top vote-getter in the election for the at-large seat, a position that can be held, and voted on, by any active or retired member of the system. Rounding out the top three, from whom Abbott must pick, are current trustee Karen Charleston and former trustee Greg Poole.

On Friday, June 2, the TRS Board of Trustees adopted the ActiveCare, HMO and TRS-Care plan design changes and premium rates for the upcoming year. Enrollees selecting family coverage in the higher levels of the active insurance plan will be particularly hard hit, with premiums rising by 16.8 percent for family coverage under ActiveCare Select and 25.5 percent under ActiveCare 2.