Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has released interim charges that guide the work of Senate committees prior to the next legislative session in 2017. Although recommendations made as a result of the studies may never appear in a bill, the list of topics to be studied provides insight into the Senate leader’s priorities for the upcoming session.

Senate Education Committee charges include school choice (vouchers/tax credits), charter school expansion, teacher shortage/retention (a joint charge with the Higher Education Committee), teacher-student relationships, and training for school board trustees. See the full list and descriptions here.

Other committee charges will also touch on issues of interest to educators:

Graduation requirements

In addition to the teacher shortage/retention issue, the Higher Education Committee will join the Education Committee in monitoring implementation of HB 5 (legislation from the 2013 session revising graduation requirements).

Payroll deduction, legislator retirement and TRS

The Senate State Affairs Committee will take another look at an issue that surfaced last session and passed the Senate before dying in the House: whether payroll deduction of union/association dues (such as TCTA membership dues) should be allowed for employees of public entities. The committee will also examine whether legislator pensions should be unlinked from the salaries of district judges, and monitor legislative changes made to the Teacher Retirement System.

Truancy

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will monitor the impact of legislation passed last session that decriminalized truancy.

Sales tax holiday

The Senate Finance Committee will examine the current sales tax holiday and consider whether the items eligible for the exemption should be expanded or the timing changed. The committee will also look at the possibility of further reducing property taxes and the franchise tax, and consider strengthening restrictions on the constitutional spending limit, all of which would impact public education funding.