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.

Accountability and Testing

SB 825 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Dan Huberty replaces the mandatory administration in 8th grade and 10th grade of a national preliminary college preparation assessment (such as PSAT), at state cost, by instead giving districts the option to administer such tests. 

SB 1005 by Sen. Donna Campbell / Rep. Charlie Geren is aimed at older students who have not yet completed their graduation requirements. It allows students who repeated grade 9 in 2011-12, and those who entered grade 10 or higher that year, to take the TAKS to meet their exit-level assessment requirements. These students could also meet the requirement by demonstrating satisfactory performance on the SAT or ACT, TSI or the current assessment instruments. TEA will not be required to administer TAKS tests after September 1, 2017.

SB 1353 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Wayne Faircloth ensures that when an academically unacceptable school district is closed and annexed to another district, the receiving district is entitled to additional funding for five years to help with the costs of facility renovation, repair and replacement.

SB 1843 by Sen. Donna Campbell / Rep. Cesar Blanco requires districts and charter schools to provide students in grades 10-12 an opportunity to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test and consult with a military recruiter. (An exception is made for districts that offer a similar test that assesses aptitude for success in a career field that does not require postsecondary education.)

SB 1882 by Sen. Jose Menendez / Rep. Linda Koop allows a school board to partner with a charter school governing body, or an entity eligible for a district-authorized charter, to operate a district campus as an alternative to intervention under the accountability statutes. A charter school for the three preceding school years must have received an acceptable rating and a satisfactory financial accountability rating and not have had its charter previously revoked; an entity considered for a district-authorized charter may not have previously operated a charter school in which the charter expired or was revoked. Before entering into a contract for operation of a campus, the district must consult with campus personnel regarding the provision that would be in the contract between the district and the charter school. For a campus receiving an unacceptable rating for the year prior to the contract with the charter school, the commissioner cannot impose a sanction or take action against the campus for failure to satisfy performance standards during the first two years of operation under the contract. The contract must include a provision addressing student eligibility for enrollment, which must provide that any student in the attendance zone of the campus shall be admitted for enrollment; preference for non-resident students must prioritize other students in the district before students outside the district. Provides additional funding for such campuses.

Career and Technology

SB 22 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Eddie Lucio III creates the P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) program and advisory council. The council comprises representatives of school district and charter schools, higher education, and business/industry. The P-TECH program provides a course of study – at no cost to the student - under which students in grades 9-12 combine high school and postsecondary courses, allowing them to complete high school and obtain an associate degree, postsecondary certificate or industry certification within six years. Schools will work with institutions of higher education and regional industry/business partners to provide access to education and work-based training. A district or charter school may apply to the commissioner for designation of a campus as a P-TECH school. (Begins with the 2018-19 school year.)

SB 2105 by Sen. Borris Miles / Rep. Jarvis Johnson requires the Texas Workforce Commission to provide TEA with disaggregated (by county or region) information regarding career and technical education partnerships with business and industry; and professional development opportunities for teachers and learning opportunities for students through industry mentorships, internships, summer programs, after-school programs and career-based student leadership opportunities.

Charter School Operations

SB 1177 by Sen. Bryan Hughes / Rep. Linda Koop requires the SBOE to adopt procedures allowing a charter applicant that scores within five points of the minimum eligibility score to appeal to the SBOE. The decision on the appeal by the SBOE is final, and if the SBOE fails to issue a determination within 90 days of the request, the charter is ineligible for consideration.

SB 1480 by Sen. Bryan Hughes / Rep. Jim Murphy provides charter schools with expanded access to the guaranteed bond program.

SB 1837 by Sen. Bryan Hughes / Rep. Dwayne Bohac allows the commissioner of education to revise the financial accountability indicators for charter schools that are operated by a public institution of higher education to more accurately measure the financial performance of those particular types of charter schools.

Curriculum and Graduation Requirements

SB 463 by Sen. Kel Seliger / Rep. Dan Huberty revises the law passed in 2015 that allows individual graduation committees (IGCs) to determine whether a student who has failed up to two end-of-course exams will be allowed to graduate. Extends the statute’s expiration date from 2017 to 2019. Provides for a retroactive determination of eligibility to graduate for certain students who entered ninth grade prior to the 2011-12 school year and were unable to graduate due to repeated failures to pass the required assessments (but otherwise completed the curriculum requirements for graduation). Requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to compile data on the post-graduation pursuits of students awarded a diploma via the IGC process.

SB 671 by Sen. Donna Campbell / Rep. Ryan Guillen requires SBOE to adopt criteria allowing a student to receive one languages-other-than-English credit by having completed a dual language immersion program in elementary school.

SB 826 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Dan Huberty revises current law regarding the sequencing of math and English courses to remove the requirement that an advanced English course can only be taken after English I, II and III; and an advanced math course only after Algebra I and geometry.

SB 1873 by Sen. Juan Hinojosa / Rep. Terry Wilson requires the commissioner to report on physical education provided by school districts. The report must include the number of PE classes offered at each campus in the district (detailing the number of days, classes and minutes offered each week by each campus), the ratio of students enrolled in PE classes compared to overall enrollment, average PE class size, number of appropriately certified or licensed PE teachers in the district, whether each campus has adequate equipment and facilities to engage in the required amount and level of physical activity, whether the district provides modifications to meet the needs of students with disabilities, and whether the district allows teachers/administrators to withhold physical activity from a student as punishment.

Health and Safety

SB 7 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt / Rep. Ken King expands the current laws that govern improper teacher/student relationships by extending them to cover inter-district relationships (an improper relationship between a teacher and a student of any age at any school). It expands reporting statutes to provide that failure on the part of a superintendent or principal to make required reports would be a Class A misdemeanor; if the person was found to have intentionally concealed an employee’s criminal record or an alleged incident of misconduct the failure to report would be a state jail felony. Schools must adopt a policy regarding electronic communications between employees and students; at TCTA’s initiative the policy must allow employees to opt out of disclosing their personal phone numbers or email addresses. Includes a provision to ensure that educators will receive instruction regarding proper methods for notifying administrators if a student initiates improve communications with the employees. Provides that employees who are convicted of felony misconduct offenses are ineligible to receive a TRS pension.

SB 30 by Sen. Royce West / Rep. Senfronia Thompson will be known as the Community Safety Education Act. It requires SBOE and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to jointly develop instruction, including curriculum and instructional modules, on proper interaction with peace officers during traffic stops and other encounters. The instruction must include roles/duties/responsibilities of peace officers, a person’s rights regarding interactions with peace officers, and proper behavior for both civilians and peace officers during interactions. It must also address the laws regarding questioning and detention, requests to present proof of ID and the failure to comply with those laws, as well as how/where to file a complaint or compliment regarding an interaction with a peace officer. School districts can tailor the instruction as appropriate for the community, and in doing so must solicit input from local law enforcement, driver training schools and the community. The instruction must be included in one or more courses in the required curriculum for students in grades 9-12. (The instruction and training program must be developed by September 2018, and the inclusion of the instruction in the required curriculum begins with the 2018-19 school year.)

SB 179 by Sen. Jose Menendez / Rep. Ina Minjarez is known as David’s Law after a San Antonio student who took his life after vicious cyberbullying. The bill defines cyberbullying (“bullying that is done through the use of any electronic communication device…”) and adds it to existing bullying statutes, and tightens up related notification and reporting processes. It allows removal of a student to a DAEP or expulsion if the student engages in bullying that encourages a student to attempt suicide, incites violence against a student through group bullying, or releases or threatens to release intimate visual material of a student without consent. The bill provides the opportunity for injunctive relief for a victim of cyberbullying, and raises the offense of “harassment” to a Class A misdemeanor if it was committed via electronic communication against a child with the intent to cause injury or suicide. It also includes provisions providing support for students with mental health needs.

SB 195 by Sen. Sylvia Garcia / Rep. Alma Allen revises current law that allows districts to receive additional transportation funding to transport students living within two miles of the school who would be subject to hazardous traffic conditions if they walked. The amended statute also extends the additional funding to students who would face a high risk of violence walking to school, and allows the district to use all or part of the funds to support community walking transportation programs.

SB 489 by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. / Rep. Carol Alvarado adds e-cigarette prevention to the issues addressed by local school health advisory councils.

SB 1553 by Sen. Jose Menendez / Rep. Diego Bernal requires that a registered sex offender entering the premises of a school during regular operating hours must immediately notify the administrative office of his/her presence and registration status. The office can provide a chaperone to accompany the person while on school property. The requirement does not apply to a student or to a person who has entered into a written agreement with the school that includes an exemption from the requirement. Revises current law regarding refusal of entry to or ejection from a school to allow a school administrator, school resource office or school district peace officer to refuse to allow a person on property or to eject a person if the person refuses to leave on request and to implement such a ban for up to two years, if the person poses a substantial risk of harm to another person or behaves in a manner inappropriate for a school setting after being warned. Districts must maintain a record of verbal warnings issued. If a parent/guardian is refused entry to district property, the district must accommodate the parent to ensure that the parent may still participate if the child’s ARD committee or Section 504 team, if applicable.

SB 2039 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini / Rep. Senfronia Thompson requires the commissioner to develop one or more modules on sexual abuse and sex trafficking for use in the health curriculum. The modules can include information on different forms of abuse and assault, trafficking, and risk factors for trafficking; procedures for reporting suspected abuse and trafficking; strategies for prevention and overcoming peer pressure; information on establishing healthy relationship boundaries and recognizing abusive relationships; avoiding high-risk activities; recruiting tactics (including via the Internet) of sex traffickers; legal aspects of abuse and trafficking; and the influence of culture and mass media and perceptions of abuse and trafficking. The module(s) must emphasize compassion for victims and the creation of a positive reentry experience for survivors into schools. Districts electing to use a module must notify parents and include a description of content along with a statement that parents have the right to review material and remove a student from the instruction. The bill also adds the subject of sex trafficking to the current law requiring districts to adopt a policy addressing sexual abuse and other maltreatment of children. Includes a provision that the act takes effect only if a specific appropriation is included in the state budget.

Higher Education / Dual Credit

SB 49 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini / Rep. Ryan Guillen revises the current Texas Armed Services Scholarship program to provide for the appointment of alternates in addition to the appointed students. If an appointed student fails to initially meet eligibility or otherwise meeting the requirements to initially receive the scholarship, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will notify the alternate of their nomination.

SB 802 by Sen. Kel Seliger / Rep. Donna Howard requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct a study to identify best practices in ensuring that courses transferred to an institution of higher education – including dual credit courses – apply toward a degree program at the institution. The study will evaluate existing articulation agreements and identify institutions that are implementing best practices.

SB 1091 by Sen. Kel Seliger / Rep. Donna Howard limits the courses that can be offered for dual credit to those that are in the core curriculum of the institution of higher education, a CTE course, or a foreign language course. Exempts from this provision a dual credit course offered as part of the early college education program.

Instructional Materials

SB 801 by Sen. Kel Seliger / Rep. Ken King expands current law regarding the instructional material list adopted by the SBOE to require that each material be suitable for the subject and grade level for which it was submitted and be reviewed by academic experts in the appropriate subject and grade level. Applies to materials adopted on or after September 1, 2017.

SB 1784 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Dan Huberty clarifies the definition of “open-source instructional material” to refer to resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that allows for free use; including courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, videos tests, software and other materials used to support access to knowledge. Allows the purchase of content not owned by the state if the content is in the public domain; can be used under a limitation/exception to copyright law; or is licensed to the state under a license that grants unlimited authority to the state to modify content, permits the free use of the material by anybody, and is for a term of use acceptable to the commissioner to ensure a useful life of the material.

Low-Income / Foster / Homeless Students

SB 490 by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. / Rep. Dan Huberty adds to the responsibilities of school counselors providing information on the availability of education and training vouchers and tuition/fee waivers for higher education for students in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services. The counselor must report to the student and parent/guardian the number of times the counselor has provided the information to the student. Adds a requirement that a school district’s annual report must include the number of counselors providing counseling services at each school. Adds reporting requirements regarding the availability of school counselors at each campus to PEIMS.

SB 725 by Sen. Borris Miles / Rep. Diego Bernal provides that a district can allow a campus to donate food to a nonprofit organization, through an official of the organization who is directly affiliated with the campus (teacher or parent, for example). The donated food can be received, stored and distributed on campus. Donated food can include surplus food prepared for school meals to be served in the cafeteria or food donated to the campus through a food drive or similar event. The district can adopt a policy under which the school provides food at no cost if the student is unable to purchase a meal or snack.

SB 1220 by Sen. Borris Miles / Rep. Hubert Vo provides additional services to homeless and foster care youth. It requires TEA to assist in the transition of such students from one school to another by ensuring that the new school relies on decisions made by the previous school regarding placement in particular courses or educational programs. The new school must provide comparable special education services, if applicable, until the new school develops an IEP for the student. The bill also requires the Department of Family and Protective Services to collaborate with schools and other relevant entities to create a program that assists foster care youth in earning a high school diploma or GED as well as industry certifications for high demand occupations, provides career guidance, and informs such students about the availability of tuition and fee waivers for institutions of higher education.

School Governance / Administrative Issues

SB 693 by Sen. Sylvia Garcia / Rep. Dade Phelan expands the types of vehicles that must meet the three-point seat belt requirement for school buses to include a multifunction school activity bus or a school-chartered bus. The bill eliminates the current-law provision that the requirement does not have to be complied with if the legislature did not appropriate funding to reimburse districts for the costs of compliance. Instead, the requirement was shifted to apply only to new vehicles (model year 2018 or later) with an exception if the school board determines that the district’s finances would not support the purchase of a bus with three-point seat belts (as long as the determination was voted on in a public hearing).

SB 754 by Sen. Charles Perry / Rep. Ken King allows a district and its depository bank to agree to extend their contract for three (current law allows two) additional two-year terms. Allows the contract to be modified for each two-year extension if both parties agree.

SB 1152 by Sen. Jose Menendez / Rep. Justin Rodriguez requires districts to excuse an absence up to four days for a student at least age 17 pursuing enlistment in the armed services.

SB 1404 by Sen. Bryan Hughes / Rep. Trent Ashby requires districts and charter schools to report through PEIMS regarding the availability of expanded learning opportunities (extended school day, extended school year, after-school learning program) and the number of students participating in each category of expanded learning opportunities.

SB 1566 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst / Rep. Ken King includes several provisions regarding school district and charter school powers and duties:

  • Provides that a school board may require the chief business official or curriculum director (or their equivalent) to appear at an executive session of the board or testify at a public hearing of the board; a superintendent may not interfere with such an appearance.
  • Provides that in responding to a school board member’s request for information, the district must provide the information no later than the 20th business day after receiving the request, with up to 30 additional business days to comply if compliance with the 20-day requirement would be unduly burdensome. If these timelines are not met, the trustee can sue the district for injunctive relief. If the trustee prevails in the suit, court costs and attorney’s fees must be paid from the superintendent’s office budget.
  • Specifies that school boards are to provide oversight regarding student academic achievement and strategic leadership for maximizing student performance. Provides that if requested by a school board, TEA must create a website that the trustees can use to review campus/district academic achievement data.
  • Requires that a district post minutes reflecting a trustee’s lack of required training hours if the deficiency exists for more than a year; the posting will be continued until the trustee meets the requirements. Trustees must complete at least three hours of training every two years on evaluating student academic performance, and new trustees must complete the required hours within the first 120 days of holding office.
  • Requires the commissioner to develop a board of trustees improvement and evaluation tool to assist districts in improving board oversight and academic achievement. Boards may determine whether to use the tool, except that the commissioner may order a district to use the tool as one of the available sanctions for failing to satisfy accountability standards regarding high school completion rates.
  • Requires Districts of Innovation to post the current DOI plan on the district’s website, and to within 15 days of adoption send a new or revised plan to TEA, which must promptly post the plan on the TEA website. (TCTA provision)
  • Requires school boards to adopt a policy that allows a principal to provide access for “patriotic societies” that are a youth membership organization (such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts) to speak to students during school hours about membership in the society. The policy must allow the principal to limit such access to a patriotic society to a single school day and to limit presentations to ten minutes.
  • Revises the current law that requires school boards to address all complaints under a grievance procedure to provide an exception so that boards are not required to address complaints about a student’s participation in an extracurricular activity (unless it involves a violation of rights or a claim regarding special education).
  • Requires districts and charter schools with high dropout rates to design a dropout recovery plan that includes CTE courses or technology applications courses that lead to industry or career certification, integrate research-based strategies to help students become academically able to pursue postsecondary education, and plan to offer advanced academic and transition opportunities including dual credit and college prep (such as AP) courses.
  • Allows school boards to operate before- and/or after-school programs for elementary or middle school students. Eligible students include private school students and other students residing within the district boundaries. The district must first conduct a request for proposals (RFP) process to determine if it would be in the district’s best interests to contract with a child-care facility; after the RFP process the district may contract with a child care facility or operate a program itself.
  • Provides that a district or charter school cannot prohibit a person (specifically including a school employee) who holds a handgun license from transporting or storing a gun or ammunition in a locked private vehicle in a school parking area as long as it is not in plain view.
  • Requires school boards to adopt a policy requiring a school nurse who becomes aware that a student has lice to provide written or electronic notice to the parent of the child as soon as possible (no more than 48 hours) and to the parents of children in the same classroom within five days. The notice must include information about treatment and prevention and the notice to other parents may not identify the child with lice.
  • Establishes a “sunset” provision for the Dallas County board of education, board of trustees and school superintendent; continuation of each will have to be approved at a November 2017 election by voters. If continuation is not approved, the board will be abolished, with a dissolution committee appointed by the state comptroller to be responsible for financial decisions related to the abolishment. At the end of the 2017-18 school year, all school buses, vehicles and bus service centers will be transferred to participating school districts in proportionate shares. Dallas ISD will have the right of first refusal to buy the administrative building.

SB 1901 by Sen. Donna Campbell / Rep. Dan Huberty requires the governor to designate a day to be known as Texas Military Heroes Day, to include appropriate relevant instruction in the public schools.

SB 2084 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Dwayne Bohac requires the commissioner to devise a calculation for average daily attendance for students in blended learning programs, including internships, externships and apprenticeships.

Special Education

SB 160 by Sen. Jose Rodriguez / Rep. Gene Wu prohibits TEA and the commissioner from adopting or implementing a performance indicator that measures a district’s or charter school’s aggregated number or percentage of enrolled students receiving special education services.

SB 436 by Sen. Jose Rodriguez / Rep. Tomas Uresti requires that meetings of the special education continuing advisory committee be conducted in compliance with the open meetings act, and that the committee must provide a procedure for members of the public to speak at committee meetings. TEA must post information on the TEA website that includes contact information for the committee, meeting notices and minutes, and guidelines for submitting public comments. The committee must develop a policy for encouraging public participation.

SB 748 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini / Rep. Alma Allen expands involvement in a special education student’s transition planning to include not only parents (as in current law) but other invited to participate by either the parents or the school district. Specifies that in considering an 18+-year old student’s age-appropriate instructional environment, the ARD committee is to consider community settings or environments that prepare the student for postsecondary education or training, competitive integrated employment or independent living. Other issues newly-included for ARD consideration are referrals for public benefits, the use/availability of appropriate supplementary aids/services/curricula to assist the student in developing decision-making skills, and supports and services to foster independence and self-determination. The ARD committee must review such issues annually and update the IEP as necessary. Requires that the transition and employment guide developed by TEA be written in plain language. Requires districts to provide notice to the student and parent by the student’s 17th birthday regarding the transfer of rights from parent to child as well as information and resources regarding guardianship, alternatives to guardianship and other supports that may help the student live independently. (Goes into effect beginning with the 2018-19 school year.)

SB 1153 by Sen. Jose Menendez / Rep. Dan Huberty expands information provided to parents regarding strategies being used with students who may have a learning disability. It ensures that parents are entitled to access to records relating to assistance provided for learning difficulties, including information regarding intervention strategies (which may include response to intervention and other early intervening strategies). Expands the current law that requires TEA to provide information regarding parent entitled to request an evaluation for special education services to also include requests for aids, accommodations or services under Section 504. Districts must notify parents of a child not in special education programs who is receiving assistance for learning difficulties that the child is receive such assistance; the notice must be provided when the child begins to receive assistance each year and must include information regarding the types of strategies used and estimated time frames for providing a progress report to parents. Districts must report via PEIMS the number of students receiving intervention strategies and Section 504 services.

SB 1398 by Sen. Eddie Lucio / Rep. Senfronia Thompson addresses problematic issues with the 2015 bill that allows the placement of video cameras in self-contained special education classrooms. The bill narrows the scope of the statute to reflect its original intent – that the cameras are only to be placed in the classrooms that are specifically requested, and only for the year for which the request was made (unless the request is subsequently renewed). It specifies that the equipment is required to be placed only in classrooms or settings in which the requesting parent’s child is in regular attendance, or if requested by a staff member, in the setting to which the staff person is assigned. It further clarifies that a parent can request cameras at the school at which their child receives services; a school board can request cameras at one or more specified schools; a principal or assistant principal can request cameras at his/her school; and a staff member assigned to work with special education students in a self-contained classroom can request cameras at his/her school. Provides that the inside of a bathroom or any area in which a student’s clothes are changed may not be visually monitored except for incidental coverage of a small section of the room due to the layout of the room. Provides details and timelines for how the district must address requests for placement and operation of cameras, requests for release and review of videos, and appeals.

SB 2080 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Ryan Guillen requires districts and charter schools to report in PEIMS the number of children with disabilities residing in a residential facility who are required to be tracked by PEIMS and receive educational services from the district/charter school.

SB 2141 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Donna Howard requires that if a special education representative receives compensation for representing a student in an impartial due process hearing, the representative must agree to abide by a voluntary code of ethics and professional conduct during the period of representation. The representative must also enter into a written agreement with the person who is the subject of the hearing that includes a process for resolving any disputes between the representative and the person. The agreement is confidential and may not be disclosed.

Special Programs

SB 276 by Sen. Kirk Watson / Rep. Tan Parker revises current statutes relating to the adult high school diploma and industry certification charter school pilot program by eliminating the cap on the program of 150 students. It also revises reporting requirements, ensuring that appropriate metrics for an adult education program such as student salaries and enrollment in higher education are included. Funding for the program in the amount of $165,128 for FY 2018 and $363,280 for FY 2019 was included in the state budget.

SB 587 by Sen. Donna Campbell / Gary VanDeaver adds dependents of members of the US military deployed or transferred to Texas who were previously enrolled in public school in another state to the students who are eligible to enroll full-time in virtual school. Deletes the current-law provision that the commissioner must contract with an education service center to operate the virtual school network, to reflect a cost decision in the budget negotiation process that TEA will operate the network itself for a $4 million savings.

SB 1318 by Sen. Van Taylor / Rep. Tan Parker allows the commissioner to designate a campus (upon application by the district) as a mathematics innovation zone and award a grant to support implementation of innovative math instruction at the campus. The total grant amount during the upcoming biennium can be no more than $12.5 million. The commissioner will approve specific programs and adopt objectives, metrics and other requirements with which the campus must comply. A mathematics innovation zone campus is not subject to interventions under the accountability system for the first two years of its designation if it is meeting the requirements of the grant to the satisfaction of the commissioner. A district can use a “pay for success” program approved by the commissioner under which payments via a private investor are based on achievement of measurable outcomes; such a program may also involve an outside education service provider and/or a third-party evaluator.

Teacher Certification / Preparation

SB 1839 by Sen. Bryan Hughes / Rep. Linda Koop requires TEA to provide educator preparation programs with PEIMS data that enables them to assess and improve their programs. TEA and SBOE will solicit input from the preparation programs to determine the data that will be provided. Provides that academic qualifications for a certificate that requires a bachelor’s degree must require training in digital learning, including a digital literacy evaluation. Provides that rules addressing ongoing support for a candidate seeking certification for a class other than classroom teacher cannot require that the preparation program conduct formal observations onsite in a face-to-face setting; observations must be permitted onsite or through use of video or other technology. Includes provisions from HB 2039 establishing an EC-3 early childhood certificate. Allows a candidate for certification to satisfy up to 15 hours of field-based experience by serving as a long-term substitute teacher (this experience may occur after admission to a program or in the two preceding years). Allows the commissioner to establish exceptions to the examination requirements for an out-of-state educator to obtain a Texas certificate.

SB 1963 by Sen. Brandon Creighton / Rep. Dade Phelan provides that rules addressing ongoing support for certification candidates may not require that a preparation program conduct formal observations onsite in a face-to-face setting. Observations may occur onsite or through use of video or other technology (same provision included in SB 1839).

TRS / Health Insurance

SB 55 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini / Rep. J. D. Sheffield requires TRS and ERS to study costs and benefits of establishing a patient-reported outcomes registry for musculoskeletal care provided through their health plans.

SB 507 by Sen. Kelly Hancock / Rep. John Frullo adds participants of TRS-Care, TRS-ActiveCare and the state employee plan to laws that provide dispute resolution services for out-of-network health benefit claims. Makes other revisions to the existing laws, including requirements for providing notice to enrollees of the mediation process, and a prohibition on a person who has been in a business relationship with a health care practitioner or provider in the previous three years serving as a mediator.

SB 1663 by Sen. Joan Huffman / Rep. Dan Flynn makes primarily administrative/technical revisions to TRS-related laws. Of interest is a provision clarifying whether a retiree is “employed” by a district for purposes of determining whether the retiree has sat out for 12 consecutive calendar months before returning to work – the provision says that a retiree is considered employed if the retiree is performing services that an employee would otherwise perform and either waives/defers compensation, performs the duties as an independent contractor, or performs as a volunteer the same services the retiree performed prior to retirement. The bill also removes a current provision that prohibits a TRS member who received a refund of payments made to establish special service credit from using installment payments or payroll deduction to purchase the same service credit.

SB 1664 by Sen. Joan Huffman / Rep. Dan Flynn is another TRS administrative bill that includes provisions slightly extending the deadlines for members to purchase service credit upon retirement; and provisions requiring that payment for the purchase of credit based on unused leave be received within 90 days of when the employee receives a cost statement (with a potential 30-day extension under certain circumstances), with annuity payments not starting until payment is received.

SB 1665 by Sen. Joan Huffman / Rep. Dan Flynn makes administrative and technical changes regarding TRS investment authority. Includes a provision making permanent the ability of the TRS Board to delegate investment authority to external managers of up to 30 percent of the assets of the pension fund.

Vetoed Bills

SB 196 by Sen. Sylvia Garcia / Rep. Garnet Coleman requires schools that do not have a full-time nurse, counselor or librarian assigned to be at the school for more than 30 consecutive instructional days to provide written notice to parents. Provides for the “equivalent” of a full-time nurse/counselor/librarian to be two or more such employees assigned to a school with all regular instructional hours covered. Districts/charters with fewer than 10,000 students are exempted from the requirement.