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The Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities will hold their quarterly business meeting on October 24 and 25, 2017, in Austin. In accordance with the Open Meetings Act, the meeting agendas are posted on the Secretary of State’s Texas Register website. This meeting will be held over two days, in different locations. The agendas are placed below for your convenience. This meeting is open to members of the public. Written comments may be submitted to the Committee in advance by emailing read more arw

Hurricane Harvey has wiped away value from many Texans’ homes. To continue to tax them as if the storm never happened is akin to taxing property that doesn’t exist. Since the Texas Constitution states that property subject to taxation shall be appraised at market value, taxing the lost value violates the spirit of the law.  view article arw

Heading into the next session of the Legislature in 2019, state Rep. Hugh Shine turned his sights on reforming two familiar crucial issues: property taxes and school finance. Sitting in the conference room at the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce, the Temple Republican briefed attendees of his forum on Monday on what he is up to during the period between regular sessions. Property taxes. As a member of the influential House Ways & Means Committee, Shine was an integral player in forming property tax reform legislation during the regular and special legislative sessions. Despite the Legislature’s failure to pass any semblance of property tax reform, Shine said he will once again pursue it. view article arw

74 Explains: School Vouchers

October 1708:30 AM

How families can use state education funds to help pay for private school. view article arw

As the nights become cooler and the autumn acorns crunch beneath our feet, we’re reminded once again that the fall season is upon us. This is the time of year we get to experience community festivals, homecoming parades, Friday night lights and countless trips to the deer blind. This is one of my favorite times of the year, and I hope you’ll join me in taking a moment to appreciate how blessed we are to live in a country that cherishes these timeless fall traditions. With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol. view article arw

In the wake of the "bathroom bill" fight that generated strong business backlash, House Speaker Joe Straus is putting together a committee to make sure Texas can continue to chase new companies. On Thursday, the San Antonio Republican unveiled the House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness, saying it will look at the factors that draw businesses to Texas, including education and infrastructure. He said he wanted the panel to "work quickly and aggressively," giving it a Dec. 12 deadline to report its findings. view article arw

For the last month and a half the state's focus has rightly been on responding to the effects of Hurricane Harvey. The House Appropriations and Public Education Committees have met to take input from relevant state agencies, local municipalities, and school districts, and remediation costs are finally starting to surface.

Doug Killian, the current superintendent of Pflugerville ISD, was recently named to the Texas Legislature's interim commission to study school finance. Read what he had to say about the challenges facing the commission. After months of fighting on school finance during the regular and special legislative sessions this year, state lawmakers left the Texas Capitol without the new system many say the state desperately needs. Instead, state leaders have put together a 13-member commission to study the issue in the interim. We sat down with Pflugerville Independent School District Superintendent Doug Killian, a longtime school administrator tapped for the commission by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. view article arw

Education Commissioner Mike Morath and superintendents of school districts that have been affected by Harvey are testifying before the House Public Education Committee this morning.   The Committee will meet to consider the following interim charge: Determine, to the extent possible, the scope of financial losses, including facilities, that resulted from Hurricane Harvey. Recommend possible state actions, such as changes to student counts or property valuation, to mitigate any negative impact on districts and ensure governance structures and parameters allow for effective responses. view article arw

AUSTIN — Mike Collier, the Democratic challenger to replace Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in 2018, is determined to frame the campaign around kitchen-table issues.  Calling himself a champion of the “working and middle class,” Collier, a Houston-area accountant who became an oil-company CFO, says his No. 1 issue is lowering property taxes for homeowners and small businesses.  “We’ve got real problems and we’ve got to solve them,” Collier said in a Tuesday interview. “We can’t pay these taxes.” view article arw

 Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced appointments to the Task Force of Border Health Officials, the Joint Interim Committee to Study State Judicial Salaries and the Office of Small Business Assistance Advisory Task Force. view article arw

The vast majority of U.S. teachers favor the use of state standards for academic achievement, but most oppose the tests that states are using to measure student success, according to survey results released Thursday. The dichotomous results came from a survey of 1,321 teachers across the country conducted by the RAND Corporation, a nonpartisan think tank specializing in public policy research. The survey found nearly 90 percent of mathematics and English/language arts teachers said they "agree" or "strongly agree" that state standards should be used to guide classroom instruction. The Texas State Board of Education has adopted a set of standards called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS. view article arw

Students in Texas public schools are still feeling the impact from budget cuts made during the great recession. That’s the finding of a report from UT and the Center for Public Policy Priorities. In 2011, state lawmakers cut more than $5 billion dollars. “The legislature was facing about a $27 billion shortfall during that session,” explained Chandra Villanueva, a senior policy analyst for CPPP.  She spoke with Robert Hadlock on Sunday morning’s State of Texas program. “They decided to cut public education instead of using the rainy day fund at the time to keep the levels steady.” view article arw

Pflugerville ISD officials said the commission has yet to be finalized and therefore has no concrete start date. Gov. Greg Abbott and Speaker Joe Straus will also appoint four individuals each to the commission.  Killian said he looks forward to his work on the commission.  “I am honored and humbled that the Lt. Gov. had the faith in my ability to serve,” he said in a statement. “I am looking forward to working for the children of Pflugerville, the state of Texas and the citizens of our wonderful Lone Star State on this important commission. God bless and guide our endeavor.” view article arw

Legislative sessions are almost always about the money — how much is available, and who is going to get it. The next session of the Texas Legislature will have the usual suspects in line —school finance, border security, pensions, etc. — but a new entry will be at the front of the line. His name is Harvey. This year’s regular and special legislative sessions were marked by financial wrangling and by some analysts’ reckoning, lawmakers dug their successors a deep hole. The Texas Taxpayers and Research Association recently estimated that the starting point for the next budget — the one lawmakers will write in 2019 — is a negative $7.9 billion. And that was before Harvey. view article arw

Frozen, employees and customers alike do nothing as a woman screams for help from a retail store’s changing area. The woman points to a man she said filmed her trying on clothes. Does he belong there? Would it be discriminatory to say something? Someone finally steps in to help, but now it’s too late: The perpetrator is long gone when police finally arrive.  A high school boy is standing in his underwear about to put on his gym clothes when he notices a female student, also in a state of undress, is in the boy’s locker room. When bringing it to the attention of school officials he’s told he must treat changing clothes alongside students of the opposite sex as "natural” as possible. view article arw

Jennifer Bergland’s contributions to education technology in Texas are nothing short of “huge,” according to her colleagues at the nonprofit Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA). Just this year, Bergland — who serves as director of government relations for TCEA — drafted a package of seven bills aimed at advancing digital learning in the state. Then she used grassroots efforts to garner support for those bills until state legislators passed them earlier this summer. This is a record number of bills implemented in the state at one time by any organization, said Lori Gracey, the nonprofit's executive director. view article arw

When charter schools recently were accused of sub-standard performance, the Texas Charter School Association defended charter school performance as “steadily improving” over time. While charter schools have seen improvement over the 20 years since their inception, it’s clear from five years of TEA data, that charter schools underperform as a whole compared to their ISD counterparts. This isn’t an opinion; it’s the facts. view article arw

Out of 7,002 bills filed during the 85th Texas Legislature earlier this year, 1,301 became law. Among those that passed, 13 were spearheaded by state Rep. Will Metcalf, R-Conroe. Metcalf provided a synopsis on the session, bills that enacted significant reform and pro-life measures, and seven proposed constitutional amendments during the North Shore Republican Women's monthly luncheon Wednesday at Bentwater Yacht Club. "It truly is an honor to serve you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for sending me to Austin to fight for your values ...," Metcalf said. view article arw

After years of focusing intensely on college readiness, states are turning their attention to students' futures as workers, enacting a flurry of laws and policies designed to bolster career education and preparation. "What we're seeing is that there's been a shift from focusing purely on college readiness to thinking also about career readiness," said Jennifer Thomsen, who analyzes policy for the Education Commission of the States. "For the longest time, the 'career' part just kind of dropped off. But now, states are really getting back to the idea that college and career readiness really does mean both of those things." view article arw

It’s not as publicized or flashy as last year’s presidential election, but there is an election going on in Lubbock County and across the state this year, with several items on the ballot.  The 2017 Texas Constitutional Amendment Election features seven constitutional amendments. These amendments were approved by state lawmakers during this year’s Legislative session, but because they’re changes to the Texas Constitution, they need state-wide voter approval. view article arw

About a month ago, many parts of our state were devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Since that time, my staff and I have been working hard to ensure that those in Senate District 3 are receiving the help and services they need. If you require assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact any of my offices. You can also visit or call (800) 621-3362 to check your eligibility, register for assistance and check your application status. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who survived the disaster and those who continue to be affected. view article arw

What are the top three issues facing the 54th District? A: 1. Major property tax reforms that include three critical components: appraisal reform to protect homeowners from rising appraisals, school finance reform that dramatically reduces local property taxes, and shoring up the property tax exemption program for disabled veterans so that it no longer penalizes military communities like those in our district. view article arw

Encouraging students and employees to exercise their right the vote is now one of Coppell ISD’s goals as it goes further into the school year.  Monday’s school board meeting ended with the Board of Trustees unanimously voting to adopt the Texas Association of School Boards (TABS) culture of voting resolution. The resolution states “the Board of Trustees of Coppell ISD seeks to create a culture of voting and encourages all district employees to model responsible citizenship for the benefits of students.”  This newly adopted resolution is expected to create communications that inform employees and eligible students about the importance of voting and when and where they may vote. view article arw

AUSTIN - Republicans dominate Texas politics, but that hardly means there is peace in the valley within their ranks.  What started as a loose band of tea party Republicans tossing jabs at one of the longest-serving GOP leaders in Texas is on the cusp of becoming an all-out civil war.  More than 50 county Republican Party organizations - including the Harris County Republican Party just last month - have passed rebukes and "no confidence" resolutions to House Speaker Joe Straus, the San Antonio Republican who has been among the state's top three GOP leaders since 2009. view article arw

This will be a difficult school year for the thousands of students displaced by Hurricane Harvey, and for the school districts that have taken them in. Those students are dealing with a lot: the stress of adjusting to a new school, and in some cases, they are living in temporary housing. That has some lawmakers and educators worried about how these displaced students will perform on standardized testing this coming spring. Now they are asking the state to make some changes. The are asking the state to delay, or waive scoring, on standardized tests for students impacted by Harvey. They also want to modify the way school districts are graded at the end of the school year, based on standardized test scores.  view article arw

In my most recent column, I discussed with you the specific items that committees in the Texas House will consider as the entire state recovers from the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. In addition to these items, the Speaker of the House asked for input from all members on items that we wish to see committees raise over the interim as we work into the next legislative session. view article arw

As recovery efforts in southeast Texas continue after Hurricane Harvey, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Thursday released a list of Harvey-related topics for Texas Senate committees to look into ahead of the next legislative session.  “Since Harvey made landfall, I have said that this Texas-sized storm will require a Texas-sized response. My goal is for our state to become a national model in handling every aspect of disaster and the interim charges I am releasing today are the next step in achieving that goal,” Patrick said in a statement. view article arw

Kristin Tassin, the president of the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees, is running against state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, in the 2018 GOP primary. "I’m officially running," Tassin told The Texas Tribune on Thursday. "The final decision really came down to the fact that the state Legislature is just not getting the job done on many issues that are important to families in Texas." view article arw

Politics can change as fast as the weather. Hurricane Harvey proved it.The breadth of the storm's effect was evident at this past weekend's Texas Tribune Festival — three days of on- and off-stage conversations about politics, policy and government. The plans for the gathering were in place well before the storm but Harvey leaked into almost every subject under discussion. Heck, the storm might have even bridged the abyss between U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, whose differences kept the two Republicans from endorsing each other in past elections.  view article arw

The national attention has largely turned to other storms, and the emergency response to Hurricane Harvey has passed. But the grim reality is that Houston and the Coastal Bend will be grappling with Harvey’s aftermath for years. The storm still touches all aspects of daily life. In quickly releasing five interim charges — guidance to House committees in preparation of the next legislative session — House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, shows he is focused on the right issues for Texas. view article arw

Comptroller says Harvey won’t hamper Texas economy for long. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar was hesitant to give an estimate Saturday of how much Hurricane Harvey will cost the state, but he said the federal government will pick up most of the bill. Hegar, speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival, said Harvey’s state recovery cost will be comparable to past hurricanes. Hurricane Ike in 2008 cost the state about $312 million of the total $35 billion price tag, according to the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities view article arw

Hurricane-related interim charges have been issued in the House of Representatives, and the Texas Education Agency has begun the process of issuing correspondence to districts affected by the storm.  There is still no clear picture as to how the state is going to handle disaster remediation efforts for both Chapter 41 and Chapter 42 school districts. Stay tuned, as we will be reporting on the details as they emerge.  read more arw

A day after drawing an opponent for Texas House speaker, state Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said Saturday he’s confident he will keep his role as speaker for a historic sixth term in 2019. “I wouldn’t run for re-election if I didn’t think I’d have a leadership role,” Straus said, answering a series of questions from Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith during the Texas Tribune Festival. Straus added that he is sure he has sufficient votes within the House Republican Caucus to secure the position but wouldn’t support shutting out Democrats in choosing the House speaker. view article arw

The State of Texas has implemented new laws for public schools — including rules on school buses, bullying and graduation requirements — and area schools are working to get them implemented. Burnet County is home to two public school districts: Marble Falls Independent School District (MFISD) and Burnet Consolidated ISD. view article arw