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Showdown over SB 8 on the House floor as deadlines loom

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Texas Legislature Privatization | Vouchers Testing | Accountability

Date Posted: 5/11/2023 | Author: Tricia Cave

ATPE obtained a copy of the House committee substitute for Senate Bill (SB) 8 by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe) the evening of Tuesday, May 9, 2023, along with news that a formal vote (one without opportunity for public input and often without cameras present) would be heard at some point Wednesday to advance the bill out of committee—without a public hearing or public testimony. SB 8, which has always contained a voucher, would, as substituted, now also make significant changes to accountability and testing procedures.

ATPE and other public education stakeholders rallied the #txed community, with ATPE members sending thousands of emails to their representatives and calling the House Public Education Committee to express opposition to not only the bill’s contents but also the manner in which it was being handled. Educators’ outreach made a difference.

The meeting was to be held during the House’s Wednesday floor session, and in order for that to occur, Chairman Brad Buckley (R–Salado) needed to request the House grant permission for his committee to meet while the full House was in session. This is normally a formality late in the session, and permission is usually given.

Last night, however, Rep. Ernest Bailes (R–Shepherd) stood and objected to the motion to allow the committee to meet. With an assist from Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) at the back microphone, Bailes questioned Chairman Buckley about why the bill was being passed without a public hearing and noted that during House floor debate on the Herrero Amendment (banning vouchers) on budget night, April 6, Chairman Buckley had stated that he wanted to hear from the public on the issue of vouchers. Bailes asked members to stand for transparency and vote against allowing the committee to meet. He then called for a record vote on the motion to grant permission for the committee to meet.

The motion to grant permission to meet failed 65-76, which kept the committee from meeting last night.

The House's refusal to allow the committee to hold its last-minute voucher vote demonstrates that there is still significant opposition to vouchers in the lower chamber. Many of those who voted against granting permission for the meeting are voucher opponents. However, there were also some voucher opponents, including a few committee chairs, who voted to allow the meeting because they feared setting a new precedent that could prevent House committees from being able to conduct their late-session business in the future.

The plan is now for the committee to meet Monday, May 15, in a public hearing that will allow only invited testimony. See the agenda here. ATPE members should stay tuned as the association continues to create additional opportunities for educators to make their teacher voices heard on this critical issue.

Thursday night is set to be a busy, long night, as the members face a floor deadline for House bills on second reading. Any House bill not passed on second reading this evening will be procedurally dead.



Mary Jane Waits

I oppose SB 8 because it does not indicate accountability for the funds that will go to private schools. What''s to stop the private school from taking the voucher money and kicking the student out and back to the public school and keeping the money? Transparency is key.

Joan Magers

I strongly oppose the Herero admendment granting school vouchers especially without public input.

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