Voucher alert in the Senate and more bad bills on the move

All eyes are on the Texas Senate floor today, where the calendar includes a bill to fund private school vouchers through a tax credit plan and a controversial bill to expand Texas’s parent trigger law. The Senate convenes at 11 a.m. today, and you may watch the action live via the Senate’s website.

Senate Bill (SB) 4 is Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s plan to create a complex private school system funded by taxpayer dollars. The bill is being carried by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), who chairs the Senate Education Committee. Click here for updated talking points about SB 4 that we encourage you to share with others. Visit our Officeholders page to find contact information for your senator, and please call or email him today asking him to OPPOSE SB 4.

Also on today’s Senate Intent Calendar is SB 14 also by Chairman Larry Taylor, relating to “empowering the parents of students to petition for the reconstitution, repurposing, alternative management, or closure of low-performing public school campuses.” The bill, which ATPE opposed when it was heard in the Senate Education Committee, aims to speed up the timeline for converting public schools to privately managed alternative schools, similar to charter schools. SB 14 is also likely to come up for a vote on the Senate floor as early as today.

Meanwhile, high-profile bills to do away with state minimum salary schedule for teachers are still pending on the House side. SB 893 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) was already approved by the Senate, and the House Public Education Committee is considering amendments to its House companion bill, HB 2543 by Rep. Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown). To read more about the bills and access talking points that you can share with other educators and your state representatives, check out our blog post from yesterday.

Also, be aware of another Senate bill that is designed to negatively impact educators who join professional associations. SB 1968 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), who chairs the Senate Committee on State Affairs, is a bill relating to the organization of public employees. This anti-union bill would also prohibit school districts and other governmental entities from allowing payroll deduction as a means of letting their employees pay dues to professional associations. ATPE opposes the bill, which was voted out of committee on Monday but has not yet become eligible for floor debate by the full Senate. While SB 1968 is likely to see progress in the ultra-conservative Texas Senate, there is much less support for the bill on the House side. Stay tuned for updates.

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