A statement released by his staff says Patrick was experiencing significant chest pain Thursday and was taken to a hospital. The statement says a doctor at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital performed a number of tests that were negative, but a final one showed a "dangerous heart blockage." view article arw

SAN ANTONIO — Palmira Aguirre has seen her fair share of principals come and go during her 23-year tenure as a teacher at John F. Kennedy High School — including most of a year when there was no permanent principal at all.  The Edgewood Independent School District physics teacher used to feel ashamed telling people where she worked — a school district managed by a board so mired in personal conflict that they couldn't make crucial hires to lead their high schools or their school system.  "It's like a revolving door," said Aguirre, who heads her high school's parent-teacher association. "There's no stability at the upper level." view article arw

A statement released by his staff says Patrick was experiencing significant chest pain Thursday and was taken to a hospital. The statement says a doctor at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital performed a number of tests that were negative, but a final one showed a "dangerous heart blockage." view article arw

While lawmakers never quite reached the $5,000 teacher raises they tried to sell the public on, local districts are doing what they can to ensure teachers are seeing their biggest raises in years. An analysis of data from local school districts shows that Smith County area districts are digging deep into local funds to ensure teachers are getting bigger pay bumps than usual. While most teachers will not see a salary increase of $5,000, most in the area will benefit from raises at least twice as large as those given in the past two years, if raises were given at all. view article arw

Talk about a mood swing. At the end of May, the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker were figuratively holding hands, reveling in the success of their plan to focus the Texas Legislature on school finance, property taxes and a handful of other issues.  At the end of July, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen had gone from that heady celebration to the bottom of the barrel, trapped in a career-threatening mess of his own making, accused of conspiring with a political nemesis against 10 fellow Republican incumbents in the Texas House. view article arw

INTERNET ACCESS Sweeny ISD students who do not have internet service in their homes can benefit from a grant the district received from T-Mobile. The cellular provider will make HotSpots available for students to use at home that provide mobile internet access, board members learned Tuesday. SWEENY — The owner of an average-value home on Sweeny ISD will see their tax support for the district drop by almost $100 under the rate proposal put before trustees this week. view article arw

The American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate group that drafts “model policies” in collaboration with conservative state legislators, is holding its 46th annual meeting in Austin, Aug. 13th-16th, at the JW Marriott, Downtown. ALEC describes itself as “America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism.” That’s about one-half the story. The other half, as the Center for Media and Democracyhas reported, is that ALEC is a legislative bill-mill where “global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights.” view article arw

Outcry against high property taxes and recapture payments, along with a desire for quality education, were at the forefront of legislators’ minds this past session, elected officials say. Many lawmakers have expressed enthusiasm about the passage of House Bill 3, a massive school spending bill. But local school administrators are a little more apprehensive about the bill, expressing some reservations about what these changes could mean for their budgets for fiscal year 2019-20 and beyond. view article arw


August 1405:56 AM

MADISON – The Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause released a new report today detailing the profound influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Texas. The report comes as ALEC prepares to hold its Annual Meeting in Austin tomorrow, where legislators and corporate lobbyists will meet behind closed doors to adopt model legislation on a broad range of public policy issues view article arw

Thrall ISD shows a positive impact from HB3 and the 86th Legislative Session; Thrall ISD has been identified as a Texas Fast Growth District from the past three-years enrollment data. The 86th Legislative Session ended in May and HB3 was passed to bring a significant amount of funding for Texas School Districts. view article arw

In their lawsuit, the Democrats contend Bonnen, Sullivan and state Rep. Dustin Burrows violated campaign finance laws and demanded that Sullivan produce a recording of the meeting that he has so far played only for select Republicans  Texas Democrats are suing over a June 12 meeting House Speaker Dennis Bonnenhad with one of his top lieutenants and Michael Quinn Sullivan, a hardline conservative activist, saying the three were engaged in serious campaign finance violations and demanding that Sullivan produce a full recording of the gathering that he has shared with only a small group of Republicans. view article arw

AUSTIN, TX — Of the three Texas representatives who have listened to the Michael Quinn Sullivan recording, two are recipients of an outsized amount of Empower Texans campaign cash and the third lost the contest for speaker to Bonnen and is alleged to be among those Republicans targeted for electoral defeat by the House Speaker. He might carry a grudge.  Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan alleges that in a secret, backroom meeting with Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and State GOP Caucus Chair and Rep. Dustin Burrows, Sullivan’s Empower Texans news website, Texas Scorecard, was offered press credentials on the House floor next session if Empower Texans would target 10 Republican state representatives for defeat this election cycle. view article arw

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Director of Bands for New Deal ISD has announced plans to run on the Republican ticket for House District 83, challenging Republican incumbent Representative Dustin Burrows.  David Speer has more than 15 years experience teaching students in west Texas, starting as band director at Frenship High School in 2004.  Born in Austin, Speer graduated from the University of Texas and married his wife Tamara, a Texas Tech graduate, raising three children in Lubbock. view article arw

The chair of the powerful House budget-writing Appropriations Committee, state Rep. John Zerwas, will be the new executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Texas System.  Zerwas, a doctor by training, announced Wednesday that he would retire from the Legislature effective Sept. 30, after representing Richmond as a Republican for more than a decade. He was first named the lower chamber's chief budget writer in 2017, and he previously chaired the House Higher Education Committee and served on the Public Health Committee. view article arw

A memo obtained by The Texas Tribune instructs DPS officers to cite and release suspects in misdemeanor marijuana cases "as appropriate." Officials said the goal is to continue enforcement even though some prosecutors aren't taking new pot cases.  Texas’ largest law enforcement agency is moving away from arresting people for low-level marijuana offenses. It’s the latest development in the chaos that has surrounded pot prosecution after state lawmakers legalized hemp this year. view article arw

Months before Texas district attorneys started dropping or delaying low-level marijuana cases, state lawmakers were told that a well-liked bill to legalize hempwas going to complicate pot prosecutions. The warnings fell flat. In early April, members of the Texas House Agriculture and Livestock Committee sat through two hours of testimony supporting a bill to legalize and regulate hemp and its derivatives, like CBD oil. Most of the discussion focused on farming and regulatory procedures. Near the end of the hearing, though, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s crime lab director, Brady Mills, was brought up to the microphone to address any law enforcement concerns the legislators may have overlooked. view article arw

The ending will be the only way to judge what’s going on in the Texas House right now, after a political operative with a well-supported political action committee made an unsubstantiated claim that the Republican speaker offered House floor access in return for attacking 10 named Republicans in the 2020 primaries.  At the end of this escapade, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen will either have the confidence of the members of the House or not, and the judgment of people outside the Capitol will probably flow from that. view article arw

As college costs and student debt have risen, more attention — at least among Democrats — has been focused on increasing federal support for higher education. A few years ago, the conversation centered on lowering interest rates for borrowers, and then on making community college free. But now several candidates aim to make four-year public colleges free for some or all students. Some go further, promising to erase existing debt. The plans are expensive, but draw support particularly from young people struggling to afford college. view article arw

Legislation that will give Texas teachers a pay bump and provide some relief from rising taxes for property owners will result in the Katy Independent School District offering full-day pre-kindergarten programs for eligible students beginning with the 2019-20 school year. Following the passage of House Bill 3 and its signing into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, Katy ISD officials said they are transitioning from the previous half-day pre-K program they had offered. The number of district campuses offering pre-K is expanding in order to accommodate a full-day of instruction, officials said. view article arw

Brazosport ISD officials proposed lowering the district’s tax rate by about seven cents, meaning there should be some savings for taxpayers and slightly less revenue for the district. However, the district’s recapture payments to the state were substantially reduced by the new Legislature. The rollback tax rate is proposed at $1.1853 per $100 of appraised property value, down from $1.2553 last year, District Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Kelley said at Monday’s board of trustees budget workshop. This means a homeowner with a house valued at $100,000 will save about $70 a year. view article arw

State lawmakers were told that a well-liked bill to legalize hemp was going to complicate pot prosecutions. In an April hearing on the bill, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s crime lab director testified that DPS crime labs did not have a way to differentiate between what would become legal hemp under the bill and still illegal marijuana, writes the Tribune’s Jolie McCullough. view article arw

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen has publicly denied allegations from a hardline conservative activist that he planned to target 10 GOP members during the 2020 primary elections — four days after the accusations surfaced.  Bonnen's statement, which was released Monday, followed an email he sent to House Republicans on Friday evening disputing a version of a June 12 meeting that Michael Quinn Sullivan, the CEO of Empower Texans, made public Thursday. view article arw

The Bonnen-MQS kerfuffle

July 3008:40 AM

As they say, pass the popcorn. Less than three weeks after state lawmakers wrapped up their 2019 legislative session, an unusual meeting convened with unlikely conferees from opposite ends of the Texas Capitol power structure. On one side: Republican House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and top ally Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, both fresh off a first session that had left lawmakers trumpeting the no-nonsense, landmark school finance and property tax legislation set to soon become law. view article arw

Less than three weeks after state lawmakers wrapped up their 2019 legislative session, an unusual meeting convened with unlikely conferees from opposite ends of the Texas Capitol power structure. On one side: Republican House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and top ally Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, both fresh off a first session that had left lawmakers trumpeting the no-nonsense, landmark school finance and property tax legislation set to soon become law. view article arw

[T}exas took a big step in improving public education when Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law House Bill 3, which included $6.5 billion in new public education spending. The governor called it a “monumental moment” given such generous support to public education without a court order. Texas families should be appreciative that Republican and Democratic lawmakers were able to advance a funding bill that provides additional support to public schools, which includes opportunities for increased teacher pay based on performance and incentives for teachers to work in high-needs and rural schools that are often difficult to staff with high-quality teachers. view article arw

Local state officials discussed everything from school finance to property taxes to Hurricane Harvey at a legislative wrap-up event July 23. Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood; Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston; Rep. Dennis Paul, R-Houston; and Rep. Mary Ann Perez, D-Houston, gathered in front of an audience of dozens at South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center for a forum hosted by the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. view article arw


July 2408:37 AM

Texas just made it easier to punish students who harass teachers. The new law narrowly passed through the state legislature in May, and will go into effect in September, reports the Tribune’s Aliyya Swaby. view article arw

Legislators across Texas entered the session with a well-intentioned list of priorities focused on public schools. Specifically, the leaders in Austin planned to address school finance, property tax relief, school safety, pre-kindergarten and to keep the Teacher Retirement System afloat. Prior to the session, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick pushed for a $5,000 pay raise for teachers. This announcement, along with recent school shootings, set the tone surrounding school district supports. Although the outcomes fell short of the Lt. Governor’s early ideas, still the most sweeping legislation in over 20 years occurred in the arena of school funding. view article arw

The race for U.S. Senate is starting to heat up, with multiple Democrats announcing their campaigns to challenge incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in recent weeks. North Texas native and State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) is expected to formally launch his Monday. West is scheduled to make what a press release referred to as a "major announcement" Monday at Dallas County Democratic Party headquarters. view article arw

As you know, there’s been a lot of action not just in the Houston City Council races but also in the 2020 election races. That doesn’t mean things have been dull in HISD and HCC, which of course have elections this November as well. I’m going to bring you up to date on who’s doing what in HISD and HCC, which as always deserve more attention than they usually get. We will refer to the Erik Manning spreadsheet for the names, though there will be some detours and some plot twists. Settle in and let’s get started. There are four HISD Trustees up for election this cycle: Rhonda Skillern-Jones (district II), Sergio Lira (III), Jolanda Jones (IV), and Diana Davila (VIII). Lira, running for his first full term after winning in 2017 to succeed the late Manuel Rodriguez. He has no declared opponent at this time. view article arw

Three major school finance laws were passed during the Texas Legislature's 2019 session. One of them, Senate Bill 500, focuses on revamping retirement for teachers. Section 83 of the bill moves $589 million from the state's economic stabilization fund to the Teacher Retirement System (TRS). That money is designated for a one-time additional payment to retirees.  view article arw

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, recently introduced the School Violence Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2019, a bill that establishes federal grant programs for public schools to first to identify then mitigate vulnerabilities in their security-related infrastructure. “In the greatest country on earth, no parent should fear sending their child to school, and no child should fear for their own safety in the classroom,” Williams said in a press release. “The time has come to provide schools with the funds and resources necessary to conduct vulnerability assessments and correct security shortfalls on their campuses.  view article arw

Lawmakers entered 2019 with high hopes that they could change Texas' bail procedures, death penalty laws and drug policies. But the legislative session ended this summer without major reforms in any of those issues. Trying to prevent a similar outcome in 2021, a bipartisan group of House representatives has banded together to form an uncommon, issue-based caucus in the Texas Capitol: one targeting criminal justice reform. view article arw

The Corsicana ISD Board of Trustees met this week for its regular July meeting. The Board approved an 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. full day Pre-K schedule for the 2019-2020 school year at Drane Learning Center in Corsicana. Elmer Avellaneda, Assistant Superintendent of Special Programs, presented the benefits of the full day schedule. Already high language, math and writing skill metrics as well as social and emotional learning opportunities are expected to improve with a full day of instruction Avellaneda said. view article arw

LUBBOCK, Texas - One of the biggest highlights of this year's Texas legislative session: School finance reform. "This one law does more to advance education in Texas than any law I have seen in my adult lifetime in the state of Texas," Gov. Abbott said  At the heart of House Bill 3 is funding set aside for full-day pre-K.  view article arw