The Capitol Report
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On Wednesday, the Senate Higher Education committee held a hearing to discuss two transferability bills – SB 2086 and SB 2122. SB 2086 focuses on ways to help students and course credits transfer within the public higher education system. SB 2122 would authorize the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to develop and implement transfer policy for lower-division courses among public institutions of higher education.
Chancellor Joe May attended the hearing and testified. He said, “All students should have the right to transfer between multiple colleges in pursuit of education, career and life aspirations. In order to achieve 60x30TX, attention to the articulation and student transfer process and outcomes is required to significantly increase the number of students completing degrees.”
DCCCD Chancellor Joe May testifies before the Senate Higher Education Committee.
These bills mark the beginning of a larger conversation. Earlier during the legislative session, Chancellor May was selected by the Texas Association of Community Colleges to represent the state’s 50 community colleges/systems and approximately 700,000 students who attend our two-year institutions. Both bills were filed by state Sen. Royce West and were left pending in committee.
Meanwhile, on the west side of the Capitol, the House Higher Education committee also conducted a hearing. One of the bills which members heard was HB 2223 by Dallas Rep. Helen Giddings. Her bill addresses developmental coursework offered by higher education institutions under the Texas Success Initiative. Learn more about her bill, which was left pending, here.
Well, we’re not really in the money – this statement should be considered “fake news.” However, the lower chamber – also known as the Texas House – debated the state’s budget and priorities on Thursday. Prior to the debate, a whopping 401 amendments were pre-filed. You can see who filed which ones and how many amendments here. Amendments are a way for legislators who do not sit on the 27-member appropriations committee to influence the budget.
Here’s what the Texas Tribune reported this morning: “After 15 and one-half hours of debate on hundreds of amendments to the Texas House budget, lawmakers in the lower chamber passed the two-year, $218 billion document, with 131 votes in favor and 16 votes against.” Read more details from the Texas Tribune here.
Flashback: The House Appropriations committee passed a budget appropriating approximately $218 billion, which is slightly lower than its initial proposal; it also would dip into the never-tapped Rainy Day Fund. It seeks to withdraw $2.5 billion to help meet budget demands and also reduces funding for higher education.
So what’s next? Following the late-night House debate and because our Capitol Update deadline was this morning, we will share a more detailed analysis next week.
Is anything else happening under the dome? Yes! Glad you asked. Check out these headlines which cover those activities. Some of the links may require a subscription.
Texas Senate votes to target campus rape, ax financial aid program and freeze college tuition for two years (Dallas Morning News)
Senate votes to freeze tuition, end mandatory financial aid set-asides (Austin American Statesman)
Senate OKs bill requiring public, private colleges to report sex assaults (Houston Chronicle)
House approves bill focused on mental health insurance benefits (Texas Tribune)
Texas Senate names Chuck Norris an honorary Texan (WFAA – Dallas)
Plenty of work still needs to be done on the national front. We watch and wait as Congress debates the budget in order to avoid a potential shut-down of the U.S. government. Doesn’t Uncle Sam have the bucks? Possibly, but both the House and Senate need to agree on what to spend and where. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said that the U.S. will avoid a government shutdown at the end of April. Let the work begin – but first, a two-week break.
So…what’s going on with Russia? The last time much chatter arose about security and Russia, two individual names kept popping up – Rocky Balboa and Drago. In 2017, two other names frequently associated with Russia are in the news. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said he will temporarily step aside from his committee's investigation into Russia's potential interference in the 2016 presidential election. Security was back in the news, too, as President Donald Trump removed chief political strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council. Was there a divorce? No, it appears they are still buds, but Bannon’s appointment was controversial from the beginning. (And former Texas Gov. Rick Perry took a seat on the council this week, too.)
The U.S. Senate went “nuclear” on Thursday, changing Senate rules to allow a simple majority vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The rule change ended debate and sets the stage for a vote today.
Listed below are bills of importance to DCCCD. We track these and other bills that may have an impact on our district during the legislative session. You can view those House and Senate bills by visiting our site.
Interested in learning more about other bills, for example the status of the Employees Retirement System of Texas and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, or SB 1750 and SB1751? Visit our legislative bill tracker.
As always, please feel free to contact our office with any questions.
On a more serious note, as we were drafting the Capitol Update, we learned about the U.S. missile strike on Syria. It’s a reminder how our world can change so quickly. Instead of talking taxes to end the week (the deadline is almost here), we’ll share a few headlines from the Dallas Morning News, Washington Post, and the New York Times.