Texas 86th Legislative Session

The House Appropriations Committee this week gave approval to HB 1 and SB 500, the general and supplemental appropriations bills, respectively. The House Education Committee approved HB 3, a combined school finance and property tax reform package totaling more than $9 billion. Meanwhile, the Senate gave approval to a package of emergency response bills meant to improve the state’s disaster planning in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

House Appropriations Approves HB 1. On Monday, the House Appropriations Committee approved HB 1, the 2020-21 budget. The plan would spend a total of $250 billion, including $2 billion from the Economic Stabilization Fund. The bill also includes $9 billion for education and property tax relief, a 2.8% cost of living adjustment for state employees, and an increase of $2.8 billion in state and federal funds for Health and Human Services over a previous proposal. The full house will take up the budget on Wednesday, March 27, and proposed amendments must be filed by 10:00 AM on Sunday, March 24.

House Appropriations Approves SB 500. On Monday, the House Appropriations Committee reported out SB 500, the supplemental appropriations bill. Compared to the version voted out of the Senate, it decreases from $100,000,000 to $10,930,000 the amounts appropriated for school safety, does not include the $100,000,000 appropriation to the governor’s office for disaster grants, includes additional appropriations to HHSC, and includes an additional $636,000,000 appropriation to TEA for Harvey-related expenses, among other changes.

House Education Committee Approves HB 3. On Wednesday, the Texas House Public Education Committee unanimously approved HB 3, a school finance and property tax reform plan that would pump a total of $9 billion into schools and tax relief. HB 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston) would put $6.3 billion into public schools (representing a per-student increase in spending of more than $800) and $2.7 billion into property tax reform. The version approved in committee includes provisions to incentivize school districts to pay teachers more to work in high-needs campuses or in high-demand subjects, replacing earlier language that would have placed greater emphasis on standardized test scores. However, HB 3 does not include an across-the-board pay raise like SB 3, which would put $4 billion toward $5,000 raises for all full-time teachers and librarians. The plan will head to the full House soon, where it has more than 100 co-sponsors.

Hurricane Harvey Response. This week, the Senate passed Senate bills 6, 7, and 8, applying lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey to improve the state’s disaster response policies. Senate Bill 6 by Kolkorst (R-Brenham) would require the Department of Emergency Management to prepare a handbook of best practices for statewide disaster response. SB 7 by Creighton (R-Conroe) establishes the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency fund for flood mitigation projects. SB 8 by Perry (R-Lubbock) establishes a statewide flood response and mitigation plan. Governor Abbott praised the package as “some of the most important bills the Texas Senate will pass this session.”

Bills out of Senate Committee this week: 62

Bills passed by Senate this week: 23

Bills passed by Senate this session: 28

Bills out of House Committee this week: 63

Bills passed by House this week: 17

Bills passed by House this session: 17

For more information on the Texas Legislature, visit  https://capitol.texas.gov/