Legislative Update: March 29, 2019

Get the latest news for Texas' 86th legislative session.

Texas Capitol building in Austin.

March 29, 2019
Vol. 7, Issue 11

This Edition

  • The Big Announcement
  • Important Issues
  • #TXLege Download
  • Finis …

The Big Announcement

Shockwaves swept through the Capitol late Tuesday. Not since Buddy Holly ... wait ... not since Bobby Knight ... ugh ... hold on ... not since Kliff Kingsbury ... darn it. Never mind. Late Tuesday, legislators in the House learned that a draft substitute for HB 2 (the property tax bill) from Lubbock state Rep. Dustin Burrows, chair of the Ways and Means Committee, had been leaked. Why is this big news? For starters, the substitute contains the 2.5 percent rate that was in the initial bill and also in the Senate’s version of SB 2. The shockwave is that HB 2 essentially exempts community colleges and a couple of other entities. (See more information in #TXLege Download.) HB 2 was voted out of committee after the late-late Wednesday marathon session on HB 1.

(3:45 p.m.) HB 1 debate paused for a point of order on Amendment 45. (Photo from the Texas Legislature Online live stream.)

Wait! Remind me about HB 1.

(9 p.m.)  Amendment 97 is presented by Rep. Gina Calanni from Katy. (Photo from the Texas Legislature Online live stream.)

Some would say it’s a tradition. When HB 1 is brought to the House floor, people settle in for a grueling debate. As the Texas Tribune notes, “There were no discussions at the back microphone of lawmakers’ sexual histories, as happened in 2015, and no one had to physically restrain House members to prevent a fistfight over the fate of a feral hog abatement program, as happened in 2017.”

Wait a second. There was debate this year on the feral hog program! Rep. Jonathan Stickland’s amendment failed; it received only four votes from the 150-member body. (Photo from the Texas Legislature Online live stream.)

This week, some debate occurred; however, the process overall was civil, even after slightly more than 300 amendments were offered. Don’t get us started on amendments to the amendments. (Yes, that’s a thing.)  

(10 p.m.) Amendment 120 is presented by Rep. Rafael Anchia from Dallas. (Photo from the Texas Legislature Online live stream.)

After a long night, members — 149 to 0 — voted in favor of HB 1. The Speaker thanked the powerful House Appropriations chairman, John Zerwas, who then thanked his committee and the House members. By the end of the night, the House budget for Texas came to a total of approximately $251 billion for the 2020-2021 biennium. The bill now goes to the Senate. The Senate Finance Committee has not voted out SB 1, their version of the state budget.

(After midnight) Appropriations chairman John Zerwas thanked the Speaker and the members for their work on HB 1.

And now it's time for ... bonus pictures! (Because who doesn’t like pictures?)

Even though it’s a busy time at the Capitol, this week DCCCD Chancellor Joe May met with Appropriations chairman John Zerwas and Dallas-area state Rep. Ana Maria Ramos to discuss higher education funding, workforce, Small Business Development Centers and ways to improve the student experience.

House Appropriations chairman John Zerwas (Richmond) and DCCCD Chancellor Joe May.

Rep. Ana Maria Ramos (Richardson) and DCCCD Chancellor Joe May.

Important Issues

When we visit with House and Senate members, Chancellor Joe May and DCCCD staffers have one primary goal: to advocate for our students and colleges on issues of importance. A few of those issues include: 

  • Funding for community colleges

    • HB 1 currently has additional funding for all community colleges, more than SB 1. 

    • As passed, HB 1 includes a total increase of $75.2 million in formula funding for all community colleges over the 2018-2019 biennium.

  • Funding for Small Business Development Centers

    • Both SB 1 and HB 1 appropriate approximately $3.2 million for SBDCs.

  • A student’s right to transfer

    • Sen. Royce West has filed SB 25 and SB 1923, which focus on transfer.

    • Sen. West will convene a group of individuals, including DCCCD representatives, to discuss how to improve the transfer bills.

  • Workforce development

    • Both SB 1 and HB 1 allocate dollars for Jobs Education and Training (JET) and Skills Development Fund (SDF) grants.

  • Local control/property tax bill

    • Also known as SB 2 and HB 2.

    • SB 2 was voted out of committee (Feb. 11); however, it has not been heard on the Senate floor.

    • HB 2 was voted out of committee (March 26); however, it has not been heard on the House floor

    • Community colleges are exempt from HB 2.

Throughout the session, we will track the issues and bills that affect DCCCD as they make their way through the legislative process. We also will share more details about the issues listed above. As always, please feel free to contact our office with any questions. You can now email us at GovtAffairs@dcccd.edu. 

#TXLege Download

What a week. Not only did the Texas House pass a budget, but yesterday was also Major League Baseball’s opening day! Maybe a few of you were “sick” and enjoyed a healing hot dog and a cold elixir as the Cubs mauled the Texas Rangers. If you were there, you hopefully weren’t caught in the people-traffic and got a glimpse of the first pitch. All this talk about hot dogs and cold beverages has me thinking of one thing ... batter up! It’s time for the #TXLege Download. (You know the disclaimer.)

Around Waterloo

The Beltway and Beyond

Finis ...

By the way ... today is the 13th Friday of the year, but not Friday the 13th (hat tip to Morning Brew). Perhaps not as scary — but really important — is knowing that in less than one week we will face the voter registration deadline in Texas. Many potential voters will not be able to vote if they aren’t registered. I know, I know. You’ve heard me say it before. However, it’s important to ask your family and close friends whether they’re registered to vote. DCCCD has conveniently posted helpful information on its website. Visit the site, check your voter registration and be ready to vote. Every vote counts. Be heard.