Category Archives: 87th Legislature

ATPE commends legislators for joining the push for STAAR waivers

Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio), joined by 67 of his Texas House colleagues, sent a letter to the Texas commissioner of education today calling for the cancellation of this school year’s STAAR tests.

Today’s letter from the bipartisan group of state representatives echoes a similar letter ATPE sent to Gov. Greg Abbott last week and shared with legislative leaders and the commissioner in recent days. Both letters reference the “COVID slide” and the need for educators and policymakers to focus their efforts this year on remediation of students, along with prioritizing the health and safety of students and staff.

“At most, any administration of the STAAR exam during the 2020-2021 school year should only serve as a diagnostic instrument to see where our students stand academically as opposed to an assessment instrument to determine district and campus sanctions under the current A-F accountability system,” wrote Rep. Bernal in the November 18 correspondence to Commissioner Mike Morath.

Texas laws and regulations link numerous high-stakes decisions to data derived from STAAR testing, including school accountability ratings, student promotion, and the evaluations and compensation of educators. Lawmakers who signed the letter to Morath expressed appreciation for the state’s decision to waive STAAR-related requirements for the Student Success Initiative this year, which ATPE also noted in our letter as a positive step. However, data from STAAR tests administered this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic will be unreliable and unfair measures to apply to a host of other decisions, as ATPE has repeatedly warned state officials.

The commissioner and governor have not yet signaled any intent to waive the testing requirements this year as they did in the spring. Morath previously has been quoted as saying, “Teaching without some form of testing is just talking.” As ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins reported on our blog, multiple members of the State Board of Education questioned Morath about STAAR testing during a meeting this morning. “Why do we even need the STAAR test this year?!” tweeted member Matt Robinson (R-Friendswood) during the SBOE meeting.

ATPE is hopeful that the growing pressure to waive STAAR testing requirements this year, including pleas from elected officials on both sides of the political aisle, will persuade Governor Abbott and Commissioner Morath to provide the needed relief and do their part to request federal waivers of the testing and accountability mandates, as well. Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for any new developments.

A bill to eliminate TRS healthcare plans: Crazy genius or just plain crazy?

On Tuesday, November 10, Representative Ken King (R – Hemphill) pre-filed House Bill (HB) 430, a bill that aims to eliminate the healthcare plans currently administered by the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) for active and retired educators in Texas. Three days later, King released a letter addressed to “all school personnel both active and retired” that seeks to explain his vision related to HB 430.

Rep. Ken King

“As a legislator I cannot in good faith continue to put a cash band aid on a broken system,” writes King in his letter. The representative describes the TRS healthcare programs as losing members who are opting for better coverage, which results in a smaller risk pool. King contends that this fairly small change in the size of the TRS risk pool results in higher premiums for the remaining participants. However, past information provided by TRS  suggests that such fluctuations in the very large TRS risk pool are unlikely to have a dramatic impact on cost.

In his letter to the education community, Rep. King lays out the following four goals, or “broad strokes” as he puts it, that make up his plan to address active and retired teachers’ health insurance needs in the future as TRS-Care and TRS-ActiveCare are phased out:

  1. The Legislature would provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that is “large enough” to allow retired educators who are age 65 or older to afford Medicare Part A and Part B.
  2. The Legislature would “create a runway for our 55-65 year-old participants to get to Medicare age.”
  3. The Legislature would allow active teachers to join the Employee Retirement System (ERS), which King says would increase the risk pool and lower premiums “dramatically.”
  4. The resulting lowered premiums would be considered “a teacher pay raise that is truly sustainable,” according to King.

Also in his letter, Rep. King asks stakeholders to “understand that HB 430 cannot, on its own, accomplish the plan above.” Taking a closer look at HB 430 as filed, that is certainly true. In fact, as it presently stands, HB 430 addresses none of the author’s stated goals.

First, HB 430 would close TRS-Care and TRS-ActiveCare to new participants. The bill would move Care participants off the plan as they reach age 65, which would result in most retirees being off the plan within five to seven years. Next, HB 430 would close Care and ActiveCare to any remaining participants after 10 years, and it would disperse the excess funds. In short, HB 430 would shut down both the active and retiree healthcare plans that currently exist through TRS, and at least for now, that is all the bill would do. In other words, the bill repeals, but does not replace anything.

What about Rep King’s four goals? He writes in his letter that he intends to file additional legislation that would work in concert with HB 430 to achieve those goals and his vision for reforming educator healthcare. As of our writing this post, these additional bills have not yet been filed.

As the 2021 legislative session approaches, ATPE will be monitoring and engaging in discussions about this bill and any other related legislation that is filed. We will be watching, in particular, to see if such legislation attempts to address the following challenges related to healthcare for Texas educators:

  • First, the Legislature needs to create a mechanism for providing automatic and ongoing COLAs as opposed to merely a one-time increase in retirees’ benefits.
  • A comprehensive plan must recognize that the need to provide healthcare for retirees who have not yet reached age 65 will persist indefinitely into the future — not merely over the course of the next decade.
  • Any plan to allow active educators to access the ERS health insurance plan would need to provide many more details, for example on its cost and viability.
  • Perhaps most importantly, an overhaul of the state’s system for providing healthcare to educators must include a plan for sustainable, long-term, formula-based funding. The funding plan should be written into statute, at a minimum, and preferably would trigger a constitutional amendment. Simply funding such a program through a budget rider would make it too susceptible to cuts from session to session.

Until his follow-up legislation is filed, the jury will remain out on whether Rep. King’s proposal to reform the state’s system of providing health insurance for over one million active and retired educators is crazy genius or just plain crazy. Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for additional information on this and other bills that may be considered in the upcoming legislative session.

Senate Education Committee discusses virtual schools, special education, and COVID-19

The Senate Education Committee met Friday, November 13, at the Texas Capitol to discuss an agenda including digital learning, special education, House Bill (HB) 3, and state assessments. Like the committee’s last interim hearing, senators met in person and sat separated by clear plexiglass dividers. The committee only accepted invited testimony, which was delivered virtually.

Most of Friday’s witnesses were school superintendents who testified about their various experiences with virtual learning. The brunt of the testimony was geared toward expanding virtual schools, which ATPE has long cautioned against. Research has consistently found that full-time virtual schools are a poor substitute for in-person instruction. ATPE submitted testimony to the committee warning that although educators have adapted to virtual learning for now in order to protect public health, it is unwise to expand full-time virtual schools on a permanent basis. ATPE recognizes that the pandemic has necessitated widespread virtual instruction this year in the short term, but it will be important in the long run for students to resume in-person instruction as soon as it is safe in order to minimize learning loss.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath presented the committee with an update on the implementation of HB 3, the school finance bill legislators passed in 2019. According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), HB 3 added $4.9 billion in state funds while decreasing local funding by $2.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2020, for a net increase in total funding of $2.7 billion.

Thus far, 26 school districts are part of the first cohort of the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA), which is the performance pay program established under HB 3. Through the September settle-up process, TEA reported distributing $40 million to districts on the behalf of 3,650 teachers participating in that program. A handful of superintendents testified regarding implementation of the program. The bill also established a Teacher Mentor Program Allotment (TMPA), which had 67 districts approved as of August to provide stipends for mentor teachers in the 2020-21 school year.

The agency is also charged with tracking the unintended consequences of HB 3. Morath said one item for consideration by lawmakers next session is a quirk in the funding formulas whereby a district with 700 or fewer students may paradoxically lose net funding when adding CTE students who should qualify for additional funding.

Josh Sanderson from the Equity Center urged the state to use any additional federal stimulus money to ensure districts receive their anticipated funding. Sanderson pointed out that districts need consistent, reliable funding and face additional unanticipated costs as a result of COVID-19, including an increased need for transportation services. ATPE’s testimony urged the state to fully fund the commitments made under HB 3, including protecting gains to school funding and educator compensation.

The committee also heard updates on the implementation of HB 3906, which made significant changes to STAAR implementation. Most notably, the bill required TEA to transition to fully electronic administration of the STAAR by the 2022-23 school year. The agency is scheduled to report on its progress toward this objective at next week’s State Board of Education (SBOE) meeting. Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson) cautioned that online testing could disadvantage students who are less comfortable with technology or have learning disabilities. A number of school administrators asked the committee to extend the timeline for the transition. ATPE’s testimony recommended that the state waive STAAR administration for the 2020-21 school year.

COVID-19 was another topic discussed in the hearing. TEA touted its response to the pandemic, including its extension of funding flexibility for remote instruction, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to districts, and launching Operation Connectivity to provide technology and internet access to underserved areas. Morath suggested that determining how remote instruction will be funded in the long term will be a challenge for the legislature.

Morath also highlighted the challenge of tackling learning loss as a result of the disruption to the educational environment due to COVID-19. ATPE has consistently pointed out that this need for remediation should serve as a warning to those looking to expand full-time virtual schools outside of a pandemic setting. In written testimony, ATPE highlighted the resolutions ATPE members passed during the 2020 ATPE Summit urging the state to prioritize the health of educators and students.

Special education was the final topic of the day. TEA staff testified that the state has increased special education spending by 27% over the past four years. A 2016 investigation found that Texas had under-identified students who are eligible for special education services, and the U.S. Department of Education notified TEA in 2018 that it had violated federal law in doing so. According to TEA, special education enrollment went from 8.7 percent in the 2015-16 school year to 10.7% in the 2019-20 school year.

The Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE) testified that Texas must change the way special education services are funded so as to correspond to the costs of specific services provided. Disability Rights Texas noted that schools have lost contact with many students in special education over the course of the pandemic and echoed the need for special education funding reform.

Today’s hearing is expected to be the last for the Senate Education Committee before the legislative session begins January 12, 2021.

Texas election roundup: The final tally

Texas has begun canvassing the votes for the 2020 general election, the process by which counties certify the official votes and open the window for any challenges or recounts. This is the tallying process that formalizes the election results. ATPE has posted a complete list of all the unofficial election results for the Texas House, Senate, and State Board of Education here on our blog.

A handful of close state House races could head to recounts. State Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston) leads Republican challenger Justin Ray by 317 votes out of more than 74,000 cast. State Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) leads Republican challenger Justin Berry by 1,324 votes out of more than 134,000. Neither challenger has conceded defeat. Democratic challenger Brandy Chambers conceded to state Rep. Angie Chen Button (R-Richardson) this week after falling 224 votes short out of more than 69,000. The threshold for requesting a recount is a winning margin of 10% or less of the total votes cast.

In the Texas House, state Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) continues to proceed as the presumptive future speaker after announcing last week that he had collected enough commitments to win that office. Members of the Texas House elect their speaker at the beginning of each new session, but speaker candidates campaign long beforehand trying to collect enough commitments to win the vote. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) voiced support for Phelan this week after Phelan was lambasted by Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West for his courting of Democratic votes. West moved to Texas from Florida and was elected the state GOP’s chairman in July.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) has offered a $1 million reward to anyone who can present evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election leading to a criminal conviction. There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the November election, despite unsubstantiated claims made by President Donald Trump. While Democrats held onto a slimmer majority in the U.S. House, control of the U.S. Senate now rests on a pair of January runoff races for Georgia’s two seats. A successful Republican defense of those offices would protect the GOP’s two-seat advantage in the upper chamber, while a pair of Democratic upsets would result in a 50-50 partisan split next year that could be broken by the vice president.

Our partners in the Texas Educators Vote coalition tabulated the turnout numbers and found that the number of Texans registered to vote grew 12% between 2016 and 2020, adding nearly 1.9 million registered voters for a total of just under 17 million. Almost 2.3 million more voters turned out in 2020 than in 2016, an increase of 25% for a total of more than 11.2 million voters.

Voter turnout in Texas was 66% in 2020, up from 59% in 2016, which is a significant improvement. Believe it or not, this was the state’s highest turnout since 1992, which saw an all-time high turnout of 72%. Young voters between the ages of 18 and 29 led the nation in early voting, including more than 1.2 million of them in Texas. According to Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), the top issues motivating young voters were the coronavirus, racism, and climate change.

All of this is encouraging information that suggests we are making good progress toward creating a culture of voting in Texas. It is also an indicator of the work we must still do to engage the one-third of Texans who are registered to vote and either choose not to or were prevented from doing so. Legislators are well aware of the growing voter engagement we’re seeing in Texas, and they have already pre-filed dozens of bills for the upcoming session aimed at either easing or restricting access to the polls.

From The Texas Tribune: A presentation on public education in rural Texas

This week The Texas Tribune is hosting a free, online symposium on “The Future of Rural Texas.” A panel presentation on Tuesday centered on the challenges facing public education in rural Texas and featured State Representative Gary Vandeaver (R – New Boston), SBOE Member Georgina Perez (D – Ysleta), and Miami ISD Superintendent Donna Hale. The discussion was moderated by Texas Tribune public education reporter Aliyya Swaby and included such topics as digital learning, school safety, the possibility of budget cuts, and what do about STAAR tests this year.

Click the link below to watch Tuesday’s panel presentation on public education, or visit the Tribune’s website for more information on the entire “The Future of Rural Texas” symposium. Here’s more about the presentation from The Texas Tribune:

Rural school districts face different challenges than their urban and suburban counterparts as they struggle to keep staff members, educate students virtually on spotty internet and ensure staff and teachers are safe in their buildings — all while dealing with financial struggles.

Donna Hale, superintendent of Miami Independent School District, Georgina C. Pérez, member of the Texas State Board of Education, and state Rep. Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston, spoke with the Texas Tribune’s public education reporter, Aliyya Swaby, about how state leaders can do more to bolster public schools in rural regions, including continuing to fund them during an economic crisis.

They emphasized lack of broadband access as one of the main barriers to online learning. Perez, who served as a teacher and administrator for more than 10 years, said another challenge rural schools are facing is retaining great teachers.

The state budget is likely to be at the center of the upcoming legislative session, VanDeaver said. While he believes there will be budget cuts to education, “how we do that and do the least damage possible to our school districts, students and teachers is going to be the priority,” he said.

“Watch: Conversations on the future of rural Texas” was first published at by The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune is proud to celebrate 10 years of exceptional journalism for an exceptional state.

Full results of the 2020 general election in Texas

The results are in for the Texas House, Texas Senate, and State Board of Education (SBOE) races on the ballot in last week’s general election. ATPE compiled the list below based on data reported publicly by the Texas Secretary of State as of November 9, 2020. These results are still considered “unofficial” at this point, however, and it is still possible that there could be requests for recounts, especially in a couple of close races where one of the candidates has not yet conceded to the apparent winner. It’s also worth noting that in Texas, as in most other states, some ballots are still being counted, including mail-in ballots from military members stationed overseas that by law are allowed to arrive after Election Day.

Remember that not all Texas Senate or SBOE seats were on the ballot this year because those officeholders serve staggered four-year terms. Additionally, while this was an election year for every seat in the Texas House of Representatives, not every incumbent legislator faced an opponent in November. We have excluded uncontested races from our list. If you aren’t sure of your own district number, click here to find out who represents you.

Quick links to election results:

For a PDF of the results, please click here.

State Board of Education

SBOE 1 Georgina C. Pérez (D) 55.37%
SBOE 1 Jennifer Ivey (R) 44.63%

SBOE 5 Rebecca Bell-Metereau (D) 48.91%
SBOE 5 Lani Popp (R) 47.19%
SBOE 5 Stephanie Berlin (L) 3.90%

SBOE 6 Will Hickman (R) 49.73%
SBOE 6 Michelle Palmer (D) 47.40%
SBOE 6 Whitney Bilyeu (L) 2.87%

SBOE 8 Audrey Young (R) 73.50%
SBOE 8 Audra Rose Berry (L) 26.50%

SBOE 9 Keven Ellis (R) 74.04%
SBOE 9 Brenda Davis (D) 25.96%

SBOE 10 Tom Maynard (R) 50.89%
SBOE 10 Marsha Burnett-Webster (D) 45.82%
SBOE 10 Trip Seibold (L) 3.29%

SBOE 14 Sue Melton-Malone (R) 67.82%
SBOE 14 Greg Alvord (D) 32.18%

SBOE 15 Jay Johnson (R) 77.82%
SBOE 15 John Betancourt (D) 22.18%

Texas Senate

SD 1 Sen. Bryan Hughes (R) 75.31%
SD 1 Audrey Spanko (D) 24.69%

SD 4 Sen. Brandon Creighton (R) 67.48%
SD 4 Jay Stittleburg (D) 30.06%
SD 4 Cameron Brock (L) 2.46%

SD 6 Sen. Carol Alvarado (D) 84.04%
SD 6 Timothy Duffield (L) 15.96%

SD 11 Sen. Larry Taylor (R) 59.47%
SD 11 Susan Criss (D) 38.08%
SD 11 Jared Wissel (L) 2.45%

SD 12 Sen. Jane Nelson (R) 62.32%
SD 12 Shadi Zitoon (D) 37.68%

SD 13 Sen. Borris Miles (D) 80.51%
SD 13 Milinda Morris (R) 19.49%

SD 18 Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R) 65.80%
SD 18 Michael Antalan (D) 34.20%

SD 19 Sen. Pete Flores (R) 46.57%
SD 19 Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D) 49.86%
SD 19 Jo-Anne Valdivia (L) 3.57%

SD 20 Sen. Chuy Hinojosa (D) 58.46%
SD 20 Judy Cutright (R) 41.54%

SD 21 Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D) 60.10%
SD 21 Frank Pomeroy (R) 39.90%

SD 22 Sen. Brian Birdwell (R) 68.52%
SD 22 Robert Vick (D) 31.48%

SD 24 Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R) 69.64%
SD 24 Clayton Tucker (D) 30.36%

SD 26 Sen. Jose Menéndez (D) 80.03%
SD 26 Julian Villarreal (G) 19.97%

SD 27 Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D) 64.82%
SD 27 Vanessa Tijerina (R) 35.18%

SD 29 Rep. César Blanco (D) 67.00%
SD 29 Bethany Hatch (R) 33.00%

Texas House of Representatives

HD 2 Bryan Slaton (R) 81.36%
HD 2 Bill Brannon (D) 18.64%

HD 3 Rep. Cecil Bell Jr. (R) 77.38%
HD 3 Martin Shupp (D) 22.62%

HD 4 Rep. Keith Bell (R) 79.11%
HD 4 Nicole Sprabary (L) 20.89%

HD 5 Rep. Cole Hefner (R) 79.98%

HD 5 LaWyanda Prince (D) 20.02%

HD 6 Rep. Matt Schaefer (R) 68.18%
HD 6 Julie Gobble (D) 31.82%

HD 8 Rep. Cody Harris (R) 85.92%
HD 8 Edwin Adams (L) 14.08%

HD 10 Jake Ellzey (R) 75.85%
HD 10 Matt Savino (L) 24.15%

HD 11 Rep. Travis Clardy (R) 75.74%
HD 11 Alec Johnson (D) 24.26%

HD 14 Rep. John Raney (R) 57.55%

HD 14 Janet Dudding (D) 42.45%

HD 15 Rep. Steve Toth (R) 66.49%
HD 15 Lorena McGill (D) 33.51%

HD 17 Rep. John Cyrier (R) 63.70%
HD 17 Madeline Eden (D) 36.30%

HD 20 Rep. Terry Wilson (R) 71.42%
HD 20 Jessica Tiedt (D) 28.58%

HD 22 Rep. Joe Deshotel (D) 68.26%
HD 22 Jacorion Randle (R) 31.74%

HD 23 Rep. Mayes Middleton (R) 60.25%
HD 23 Jeff Anotonelli (D) 39.75%

HD 24 Rep. Greg Bonnen (R) 69.97%
HD 24 Brian Rogers (D) 27.52%
HD 24 Dick Illyes (L) 2.51%

HD 25 Cody Vasut (R) 71.60%
HD 25 Patrick Henry (D) 28.40%

HD 26 Jacey Jetton (R) 51.81%
HD 26 Sarah DeMerchant (D) 48.19%

HD 27 Rep. Ron Reynolds (D) 67.80%
HD 27 Tom Virippan (R) 32.20%

HD 28 Rep. Gary Gates (R) 55.29%
HD 28 Eliz Markowitz (D) 44.71%

HD 29 Rep. Ed Thompson (R) 56.72%
HD 29 Travis Boldt (D) 43.28%

HD 31 Rep. Ryan Guillen (D) 58.42%
HD 31 Marian Knowlton (R) 41.58%

HD 32 Rep. Todd Hunter (R) 61.14%
HD 32 Eric Holquin (D) 38.86%

HD 33 Rep. Justin Holland (R) 64.83%
HD 33 Andy Rose (D) 35.17%

HD 34 Rep. Abel Herrero (D) 59.48%
HD 34 James Hernandez (R) 40.52%

HD 41 Rep. Bobby Guerra (D) 57.86%
HD 41 John R. Guerra (R) 42.14%

HD 44 Rep. John Kuempel (R) 67.43%
HD 44 Robert Bohmfalk (D) 29.48%
HD 44 Julian Mardock (L) 3.09%

HD 45 Rep. Erin Zwiener (D) 50.54%
HD 45 Carrie Isaac (R) 49.46%

HD 47 Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D) 49.27%
HD 47 Justin Berry (R) 48.29%
HD 47 Michael Clark (L) 2.44%
** As of Nov. 9, Justin Berry has not conceded to Rep. Vikki Goodwin.

HD 48 Rep. Donna Howard (D) 70.09%
HD 48 Bill Strieber (R) 29.91%

HD 49 Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D) 78.86%
HD 49 Charles A. Meyer (R) 17.96%
HD 49 Kenneth Moore (L) 3.19%

HD 50 Rep. Celia Israel (D) 68.78%
HD 50 Larry Delarose (R) 31.22%

HD 51 Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D) 82.67%
HD 51 Robert Reynolds (R) 17.33%

HD 52 Rep. James Talarico (D) 51.44%
HD 52 Lucio Valdez (R) 48.56%

HD 53 Rep. Andrew Murr (R) 78.14%
HD 53 Joe Herrera (D) 21.86%

HD 54 Rep. Brad Buckley (R) 53.51%
HD 54 Keke Williams (D) 46.49%

HD 56 Rep. Doc Anderson (R) 67.32%

HD 56 Katherine Turner-Pearson (D) 32.68%

HD 57 Rep. Trent Ashby (R) 79.46%
HD 57 Jason Rogers (D) 20.54%

HD 58 Rep. DeWayne Burns (R) 79.05%
HD 58 Cindy Rocha (D) 20.95%

HD 61 Rep. Phil King (R) 83.04%
HD 61 Chris Cox (D) 14.05%
HD 61 J.K. Stephenson (L) 2.90%

HD 62 Rep. Reggie Smith (R) 78.77%
HD 62 Gary Thomas (D) 21.23%

HD 63 Rep. Tan Parker (R) 67.45%
HD 63 Leslie Peeler (D) 32.55%

HD 64 Rep. Lynn Stucky (R) 54.92%
HD 64 Angela Brewer (D) 45.08%

HD 65 Rep. Michelle Beckley (D) 51.50%
HD 65 Kronda Thimesch (R) 48.50%

HD 66 Rep. Matt Shaheen (R) 49.68%
HD 66 Sharon Hirsch (D) 48.47%
HD 66 Shawn Jones (L) 1.86%

HD 67 Rep. Jeff Leach (R) 51.80%
HD 67 Lorenzo Sanchez (D) 48.20%

HD 68 Rep. Drew Springer (R) 85.47%
HD 68 Patsy Ledbetter (D) 14.53%

HD 70 Rep. Scott Sanford (R) 61.95%
HD 70 Angela Bado (D) 38.05%

HD 71 Rep. Stan Lambert (R) 78.90%
HD 71 Sam Hatton (D) 21.10%

HD 73 Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R) 74.98%
HD 73 Stephanie Phillips (D) 25.02%

HD 74 Eddie Morales Jr. (D) 54.10%
HD 74 Ruben Falcon (R) 45.90%

HD 78 Rep. Joe Moody (D) 61.42%
HD 78 Jeff Lane (R) 38.58%

HD 83 Rep. Dustin Burrows (R) 79.30%
HD 83 Addy Perry-Franks (D) 20.70%

HD 84 Rep. John Frullo (R) 61.31%
HD 84 John Gibson (D) 38.69%

HD 85 Rep. Phil Stephenson (R) 56.41%

HD 85 Joey Cardenas III (D) 41.19%
HD 85 Michael Miller (L) 2.41%

HD 89 Rep. Candy Noble (R) 59.11%
HD 89 Ray Ash (D) 38.38%
HD 89 Ed Kless (L) 2.52%

HD 90 Rep. Ramon Romero Jr. (D) 72.37%
HD 90 Elva Camacho (R) 27.63%

HD 91 Rep. Stephanie Klick (R) 63.97%

HD 91 Jeromey Sims (D) 36.03%

HD 92 Jeff Cason (R) 50.94%
HD 92 Jeff Whitfield (D) 47.13%
HD 92 Brody Mulligan (G) 1.94%

HD 93 Rep. Matt Krause (R) 54.58%
HD 93 Lydia Bean (D) 45.42%

HD 94 Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R) 51.00%
HD 94 Alisa Simmons (D) 45.84%
HD 94 Jessica Pallett (L) 3.16%

HD 96 David Cook (R) 51.20%
HD 96 Joe Drago (D) 46.11%
HD 96 Nelson Range (L) 2.70%

HD 97 Rep. Craig Goldman (R) 52.62%
HD 97 Elizabeth Beck (D) 45.11%
HD 97 Rod Wingo (L) 2.26%

HD 98 Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R) 68.00%
HD 98 Debra Edmondson (D) 32.00%

HD 102 Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos (D) 53.91%
HD 102 Linda Koop (R) 46.09%

HD 103 Rep. Rafael Anchia (D) 74.56%
HD 103 Jerry Fortenberry (R) 25.44%

HD 105 Rep. Terry Meza (D) 54.95%
HD 105 Gerson Hernandez (R) 42.04%
HD 105 Bret Bolton (L) 3.00%

HD 106 Rep. Jared Patterson (R) 58.51%
HD 106 Jennifer Skidonenko (D) 41.49%

HD 107 Rep. Victoria Neave (D) 56.50%
HD 107 Samuel Smith (R) 43.50%

HD 108 Rep. Morgan Meyer (R) 49.65%
HD 108 Joanna Cattanach (D) 48.03%
HD 108 Ed Rankin (L) 2.31%

HD 109 Rep. Carl Sherman Sr. (D) 83.28%
HD 109 Eugene Allen (R) 16.72%

HD 112 Rep. Angie Chen Button (R) 48.92%
HD 112 Brandy Chambers (D) 48.59%
HD 112 Shane Newsom (L) 2.49%
*Brandy Chambers conceded to Rep. Angie Chen Button on Nov. 11.

HD 113 Rep. Rhetta Bowers (D) 51.77%
HD 113 Will Douglas (R) 48.23%

HD 114 Rep. John Turner (D) 53.62%
HD 114 Luisa Del Rosal (R) 46.38%

HD 115 Rep. Julie Johnson (D) 56.90%
HD 115 Karyn Brownlee (R) 43.10%

HD 116 Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D) 69.17%
HD 116 Robert Litoff (R) 30.83%

HD 117 Rep. Philip Cortez (D) 54.90%
HD 117 Carlos Antonio Raymond (R) 41.28%
HD 117 Tony Quinones (L) 3.82%

HD 118 Rep. Leo Pacheco (D) 56.76%
HD 118 Adam Salyer (R) 39.94%
HD 118 Eric Velasquez (L) 3.30%

HD 119 Liz Campos (D) 61.81%
HD 119 George B. Garza (R) 34.63%
HD 119 Arthur Thomas IV (L) 2.21%
HD 119 Antonio Padron (G) 1.35%

HD 120 Rep. Barbara Gervin Hawkins (D) 65.92%
HD 120 Roland Payne (R) 30.90%
HD 120 Shawn Huckabay (L) 3.18%

HD 121 Rep. Steve Allison (R) 53.53%
HD 121 Celina Montoya (D) 46.47%

HD 122 Rep. Lyle Larson (R) 59.70%
HD 122 Claire Barnett (D) 40.30%

HD 125 Rep. Ray Lopez (D) 79.88%
HD 125 Tony Valdivia (L) 20.12%

HD 126 Rep. Sam Harless (R) 53.30%
HD 126 Natali Hurtado (D) 46.70%

HD 127 Rep. Dan Huberty (R) 71.13%
HD 127 Neko Antoniou (L) 28.87%

HD 128 Rep. Briscoe Cain (R) 68.40%
HD 128 Mary Williams (D) 31.60%

HD 129 Rep. Dennis Paul (R) 58.92%
HD 129 Kayla Alix (D) 41.08%

HD 130 Rep. Tom Oliverson (R) 68.99%
HD 130 Bryan Henry (D) 31.01%

HD 132 Rep. Gina Calanni (D) 48.09%
HD 132 Mike Schofield (R) 51.80%
HD 132 Titus Benton (W) 0.11%

HD 133 Rep. Jim Murphy (R) 57.12%
HD 133 Sandra Moore (D) 41.20%
HD 133 James Harren (L) 1.68%

HD 134 Rep. Sarah Davis (R) 47.70%
HD 134 Ann Johnson (D) 52.30%

HD 135 Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D) 49.08%
HD 135 Justin Ray (R) 48.65%
HD 135 Paul Bilyeu (L) 2.28%
** As of Nov. 9, Justin Ray has not conceded to Rep. Jon Rosenthal.

HD 136 Rep. John Bucy (D) 53.30%
HD 136 Mike Guevara (R) 43.09%
HD 136 Brian Elliott (L) 3.62%

HD 137 Rep. Gene Wu (D) 81.48%
HD 137 Lee Sharp (L) 18.52%

HD 138 Lacey Hull (R) 51.62%
HD 138 Akilah Bacy (D) 48.38%

HD 139 Rep. Jarvis Johnson (D) 85.88%
HD 139 Grizzle Trojacek (L) 14.12%

HD 142 Rep. Harold Dutton (D) 74.73%
HD 142 Jason Rowe (R) 25.27%

HD 144 Rep. Mary Ann Perez (D) 56.43%
HD 144 Tony Salas (R) 43.57%

HD 145 Rep. Christina Morales (D) 64.02%
HD 145 Martha Fierro (R) 33.72%
HD 145 Richard Howell (L) 2.27%

HD 146 Rep. Shawn Thierry (D) 87.03%
HD 146 J.J. Campbell (L) 12.97%

HD 148 Penny Shaw (D) 63.66%
HD 148 Luis LaRotta (R) 36.34%

HD 149 Rep. Hubert Vo (D) 59.41%
HD 149 Lily Truong (R) 40.59%

HD 150 Rep. Valoree Swanson (R) 58.11%
HD 150 Michael Walsh (D) 38.59%
HD 150 Jesse Herrera (L) 3.30%

From the Texas Tribune: A handful of battleground races in Texas remain unsettled after Election Day

Harris County election workers process data cards that contain ballot results at NRG Arena in Houston. Credit: Pu Ying Huang for The Texas Tribune

A handful of battleground races in Texas remain unsettled days after Election Day

A handful of battleground races in Texas remain unsettled days after Election Day” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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A few battleground races in Texas are still not fully settled as the current runner-up holds off on conceding, waiting to see more votes get counted.

Here are contests where the candidate with fewer votes has not admitted defeat as of Monday morning:

  • State House District 112: Democratic challenger Brandy Chambers is losing to Rep. Angie Chen Button, R-Richardson, by 224 votes out of 69,009 (0.32%)
  • State House District 135: Republican challenger Justin Ray is down against Rep. Jon Rosenthal, D-Houston, by 317 votes out of 74,504 (0.43%)
  • State House District 47: Republican challenger Justin Berry is behind Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, by 1,324 out of 134,408 (0.99%)
  • 24th Congressional District: Democrat Candace Valenzuela trails Republican Beth Van Duyne by 4,489 votes out of 340,933 (1.32%)

Rosenthal, Goodwin and Van Duyne have all declared victory, while the current No. 2 finishers across the four races have declined to concede.

“Votes are still being counted,” Chambers wrote Friday on Facebook. “Team Brandy wants every vote counted. We will not make any decisions until every single vote is counted.”

In Texas, Monday is the last day for counties to receive overseas and military mail-in ballots. Tuesday is the last day for counties to review provisional ballots so they can be sent to ballot boards for counting. Nov. 16 is the last day for ballot boards to count late-arriving mail-in and provisional ballots, and the next day is the canvass deadline.

A runner-up candidate is eligible to request a recount if the difference between the number of votes they received and the number of votes the No. 1 finisher received is less than 10% of the latter. (For instance, if the leading candidate gets 2,000 votes and second place gets 1,850 votes, the margin of 150 is less than 200, which is 10% of 2,000, so the second-place candidate can call for a recount.)

The deadline to request a recount is 5 p.m. the second day after the canvass. If the second day is on a weekend, the deadline rolls over to Monday.

All four races where there has not been a concession yet were hotly contested by both sides. Valenzuela and Van Duyne were competing to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell, in what national Democrats saw as one of their best pickup opportunities in Texas. They aimed to flip 10 GOP-held seats here and have not notched any gains.

The three state House elections all factored in to the fight for the majority, which is remaining in Republican hands. Democrats were nine seats away from the majority before Tuesday, and they fell far short of it, picking up one seat and losing another.

In at least the 24th Congressional District, the No. 1 finisher, Van Duyne, has called on the current runner-up to accept defeat. Neither Decision Desk HQ, which is powering The Texas Tribune’s results, nor the Associated Press have called the race for Van Duyne.

“Once again, I will repeat, Beth Van Duyne will be the Congresswoman for Texas’ 24th District,” Van Duyne’s campaign manager, Donald Rickard, said in a statement Thursday. “Candace Valenzuela has no path whatsoever.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at


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Texas 2020 election recap: What we know so far

After one of the most unusual campaign seasons we’ve ever experienced, the 2020 election is finally (mostly) in the books! While we’re still awaiting official results in many races, a general picture of the new political landscape is beginning to take shape. It should be noted that some mail-in ballots, particularly those that were postmarked on Election Day and any votes cast by military members serving overseas, have yet to be counted. Some close results could still change once those outstanding ballots are processed.

Republicans look like they will hold onto their majority in the Texas House of Representatives, which Democrats had hoped to capture by flipping at least nine competitive House seats. The current split is 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats, and the early returns showed Republicans narrowly fending off Democratic challengers in all but one race. State Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston) conceded to Democratic opponent Ann Johnson Tuesday night on Twitter. That race appears to be offset by Democratic state Rep. Gina Calanni’s (D-Katy) loss to Republican Mike Schofield, who held the seat before Calanni defeated him in 2018.

Control of the House means the next speaker would be drawn from among Republican ranks, and the politicking among GOP candidates for speaker continued through election night and into this morning. State Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), who chaired the House State Affairs Committee during the 2019 legislative session, announced Wednesday on Twitter that he had gathered the votes necessary to be elected speaker, although that election cannot take place until the Legislature meets in January.

The speaker will appoint committees and set the House agenda for the upcoming legislative session, beginning with important decisions about how to conduct the physical process of legislating and whether the House should conduct its business at the Texas Capitol or an alternate location in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Republican control of the House would also guarantee GOP control of the redistricting process, ensuring that the new voting maps will favor Republicans for the next 10 years.

In the Texas Senate, former state Rep. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) was elected to succeed retiring state Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso). Democrats reclaimed a seat lost to Republican Pete Flores in a 2018 special election. Former state Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) defeated Sen. Flores by a relatively narrow margin of 10,000 votes. The Democratic win shifts the split in the Texas Senate to 18 Republicans and 13 Democrats, which would give Democrats the ability to block controversial legislation under the current Senate’s rule requiring three-fifths of members present and voting to consent to hearing a bill on the floor. The Texas Senate had previously boasted a long history of requiring a supermajority to pass legislation, a rule that was intended to prevent the chamber from becoming a partisan theater. Republican Dan Patrick immediately lowered that threshold from two-thirds after his election as lieutenant governor, and he has already announced his intention to lower the threshold to a simple majority should Democrats gain more seats.

Democrats appear on track to gain one seat on the 15-member State Board of Education (SBOE). Democrat Rebecca Bell-Metereau leads Republican Lani Popp in District 5, which was previously held by retiring Member Ken Mercer (R-San Antonio). Democrats had hoped to pick up two additional seats, which would have wrested the board majority from Republicans. Instead, the new board looks like it will be split between nine Republicans and six Democrats. The board will feature new members from both parties, including Republicans Audrey Young from East Texas and Jay Johnson from the panhandle, both of whom replaced retiring members. Over the past few years, the SBOE has become markedly less partisan and even at times a model of bipartisan productivity. We’re optimistic that the new class will continue along that path.

At the state level, Democrats’ hopes that Texas would step into the blue or purple column were dashed Tuesday night. Republican Donald Trump won 52% of the presidential vote in Texas, which is about the same share of Texas voters that he won in 2016. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn defeated Democratic challenger MJ Hegar by 10 percentage points, which was roughly double the margin that separated Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke in 2018.

Stay tuned to our blog here on Teach the Vote for more detailed election results as we obtain more finalized information.

From The Texas Tribune: How the Texas Legislature will operate next year is up in the air

It’s unclear what typical functions at the Texas Capitol will look like in January, or whether they will even exist. Credit: Austin Price for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Legislature meets in less than 100 days. Nobody knows how the session will look.

The Texas Capitol is a bustling place when the Legislature is in session — the elevators are crowded, the hallways are packed, the committee hearing rooms are overflowing and the chamber floors are covered with state lawmakers.

But with less than 100 days until the 87th regular session and the coronavirus pandemic still upending once-regular ways of life, it’s unclear what typical functions at the Capitol will look like in January, or whether they will even exist.

That uncertainty this close to the session could have ramifications for what members say will be one of the toughest legislative sessions in recent years: tackling billions of dollars in shortfalls to the state budget, undergoing the process of redrawing the state’s political maps, and navigating issues like health care and public education that have been a focus during the pandemic.

On top of that, the Capitol has been closed to most everyone for months, prompting questions about the access that the public will have to the legislative process.

Senate and House members spearheading logistical discussions say that while much remains up in the air, the two chambers are working together to implement session rules that are consistent for both chambers. With wildly different dynamics in the 31-person Senate and the 150-person House, though, some suggest that the two chambers may not end up on the same page.

“Our primary concern is safety, transparency and public access,” said state Rep. Donna Howard, an Austin Democrat who serves as vice chair of the House Administration Committee. “There’s so much up in the air.”

State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, chair of the committee, said the House is “in conversation with the lieutenant governor’s office,” but noted that “until there’s a presumed speaker, we don’t have a lot of guidance” in the lower chamber.

To Geren’s point, there’s only so much the House can do to prepare for the next session when its speaker is retiring and control of the lower chamber could flip to Democrats in November. There aren’t any declared candidates yet in the race to replace Republican House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. However, if a member collected the votes needed to win before January, they could become the presumptive speaker and informally lay the groundwork on what protocols would be in place.

On the Senate side, rumors have lingered for weeks over what Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has told senators to expect come January. On a recent call with Senate chairs, according to several people who had knowledge of the call but weren’t authorized to speak on the record, Patrick outlined a worst-case scenario that involved limiting the legislation allowed for consideration and banning the public, press and lobbyists from entering the chamber.

A senior adviser for Patrick declined to comment for this story. And state Sen. Bryan Hughes, a Mineola Republican who chairs the Senate Administration Committee, did not respond to requests for comment.

Some decisions have already been made. Plexiglass dividers have been installed in several House committee hearing rooms, Geren said. Such barriers, he said, won’t be installed on the 150 House floor desks in the chamber after a trial run with a couple of them because they would interfere with the light used by new mobile sanitizing machines, as The Dallas Morning News first reported. House and Senate offices have also offered free webcams to offices in preparation for conducting more business virtually.

The Legislature, though, still faces a list of seemingly never-ending questions: Should temperature checks or some other form of screening be required before people enter the building? How can the House spread out 150 desks on the chamber floor — and will press and essential staff still be allowed on it? How can the public testify on legislation in committee hearing rooms, particularly on measures that generate a lot of interest?

Buoying those questions are layers of uncertainty about whether the virus will spike this winter, whether a vaccine will be available — and accessible — and, heading into the November election, whether Democrats will have control over the House, which could mean a change in leadership style to counter the GOP-controlled Legislature.

In August, Geren sent members results from a House survey over how and when the Capitol should reopen. Not every member responded, but those who answered questions about requiring temperature checks upon entering the Capitol and requiring face masks while inside committee rooms and public meeting spaces overwhelmingly supported those measures.

Howard told the Tribune that members are considering different sorts of screening protocols for how the public enters the Capitol but that no decisions have been made on what that could look like.

Since mid-March, the Capitol has been closed to the public, preventing members from holding interim committee hearings inside the building with public testimony. Those hearings are usually scheduled to help members consider or research business that could come up during the next session.

On Monday, hearing notices were posted for Senate Higher Education and Education interim committee hearings, both of which are set to happen next week. Each notice states that access to the Capitol “is limited to legislators and staff only” — and that only invited testimony will be allowed. “Invited testimony will be conducted via video-conference,” the notices say.

As a sort of workaround in the House, the speaker’s office released a memo in July detailing three options for how to conduct committee business while also adhering to lower-chamber rules, which do not allow for virtual hearings. Some committees have carried out interim business following that guidance.

Still, Democrats and Republicans have called on Gov. Greg Abbott, who oversees the Capitol, to reopen the building in recent weeks, arguing that if in-person fundraisers and public schools can resume, so can interim committee hearings. Such requests have gone unanswered publicly, and a spokesperson for the governor did not respond to a request for comment for this article. A spokesperson for the State Preservation Board also declined to comment.

“It certainly looks like we’re not going to have anything open before session starts,” Howard said. “We’ve really had no opportunity to have interim hearings, which has been extremely frustrating.”

State Rep. Phil King, a Weatherford Republican who chairs the House Redistricting Committee, said that “right now, we’re just locked out” — and added that it’s his “strong preference” that the Capitol reopen as soon as possible.

“I think it’s time now,” he said.

In the meantime, some members are already mapping out what office-specific guidelines they may issue for the 87th session. While most members say they are waiting to finalize those plans until closer to January, a number of them have already laid out protocols.

State Rep. Jon Rosenthal’s office, for example, has established a set of guidelines that staff and the lawmaker “will adhere to independent of rules and procedures the House Administration Committee provides the members for the 87th Legislative session,” according to a memo from the Houston Democrat’s office and assuming he wins reelection.

Masks will be required to enter Rosenthal’s Capitol office, which will not allow more than six people inside at a time. Rosenthal and his staff, the memo says, will also be tested for the virus “a minimum of once per week.” And interns, should they be hired, will work from home unless “dramatic changes happen” to prevent the spread of the virus.

On the other hand, state Rep. Briscoe Cain, a Republican from Deer Park and a member of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus, said he and his staff “absolutely will not” mandate masks — and that his “office will be open to all just as it has been since I was first elected.”

“It won’t bother me if visitors want to wear [a mask], I’m not going to make them take them off,” Cain told the Tribune. “In 2017 or 2019, if someone wanted to wear a mask, I would not have cared.”

Another Republican, state Rep. Dade Phelan of Beaumont, said his office is considering limiting staff and the number of visitors allowed in the office at one time. He said his office is also thinking about trying to move meetings online, though no decisions have been made yet. Across the rotunda, state Sen. Borris Miles’ staff members said they have already installed a plexiglass shield at the front desk in the Houston Democrat’s office.

Meanwhile, a group of House Democrats including state Reps. Joe Moody of El Paso and John Turner of Dallas have spent the past several months working on a governance platform to add to the conversation about what the session should look like.

“Keep the ‘People’s House’ accessible to all who wish to safely participate,” read a line in a one-pager that was presented at the House Democratic Caucus’ recent virtual retreat. “Institute daily COVID checks for everyone entering the Texas Capitol,” reads another. Another one: “Propose penalties to discourage anyone from flouting pandemic rules.”

The pandemic has, of course, impacted other issues tied to the Legislature and its usual timeline. In addition to addressing the billions of dollars in shortfalls to the state budget and other core issues during session, state lawmakers are also set to undergo the once-in-a-decade process of redrawing the state’s political maps.

The pandemic has already halted several hearings that both the House and Senate redistricting committees had scheduled across the state during the interim. And, on top of that, King, chair of the House Redistricting Committee, said the census data that helps lawmakers draw political maps is not expected to arrive until at least June — which could put the Legislature on track to work beyond the 140-day regular session.

“I think we’re headed for a special session on redistricting regardless,” King told the Tribune.

Others agree. At a virtual event in July, the lieutenant governor said the Legislature could be in session until at least September, citing the budget and redistricting.

“I’ve told my staff and I’ve told senators,” Patrick said, “don’t plan any vacations until maybe after Sept. 30 of next year.”

The Texas Legislature meets in less than 100 days. Nobody knows how the session will look.” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.


Senate District 30 special election results

Today, September 29, voters in Senate District (SD) 30 in North Texas headed to the polls for a special election. The Senate seat opened up after Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper) last month announced his plans to resign. Fallon was tapped by the Republican party to replace former U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe on the ballot in the November general election for the 4th Congressional District of Texas, after Ratcliffe became the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) for the Trump administration. Gov. Greg Abbott quickly called for the special election even before Fallon’s resignation was effected in the solidly Republican Senate district.

Here are the unofficial results of today’s special election:

  • Current state Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) received 31.83% of the votes. Springer was endorsed by the outgoing Fallon along with several other members of the Texas Legislature.
  • Beauty salon owner turned Republican activist Shelley Luther earned 31.7% of the votes. Luther gained national fame after she was arrested for violating business closure orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which Gov. Abbott scaled back immediately thereafter.
  • Republican boot company owner Craig Carter brought in 5.53% of the votes.
  • Republican Chris Watts who resigned as Mayor of Denton in order to vie for this seat received 6.28% of the votes.
  • Republican consultant Andy Hopper received 3.59% of the votes.
  • The lone Democratic candidate in the race, electrician Jacob Minter, earned 21.06% of the vote in this heavily Republican-leaning district.

The top two finishers, Springer and Luther, were separated by less than one hundred votes, out of more than 68,000 cast. Since no candidate earned more than 50% of the votes needed to win today, the top two finishers will move on to a runoff. A date for the runoff election has not yet been announced.