Governmental Affairs > Legislative Update > March 20, 2015 (Vol. 5, Number 7)

March 20, 2015 (Vol. 5, Number 7)

This Week in Austin...

While the Dallas County Community College District's students and employees took time to enjoy spring break last week, the state's legislators continued to meet in committees, talk about legislation and file bills to meet last Friday's deadline. This week, the momentum shifted from K-12 issues back to open carry, campus carry, border security and tax relief bills.

Dr. Joe May, DCCCD's chancellor, and Dr. Justin Lonon, executive vice chancellor, were in Austin during the break and again this week to continue to advocate on behalf of DCCCD’s legislative priorities.

Early Childhood Education

One of our legislative priorities is to allow DCCCD to offer a baccalaureate degree in early childhood education. Last week, Sen. Royce West and Rep. Helen Giddings filed companion bills - SB 1810 and HB 3836 in support of this effort. This is an issue that has garnered vigorous support from leaders throughout the area, include the Dallas Mayor, the Dallas County Judge, numerous public school superintendents and business and civic leaders.

The Dallas Morning News Editorial Board recently wrote in support of this effort and identified community colleges as best able to expand the early childhood teacher pipeline.

The Dallas Morning News also ran a column this past weekend praising SB1810 and HB3836 and encouraging passage of the bills.

We are grateful that Sen. West and Rep. Giddings have chosen to take on this important issue. We have a great deal to do to move this issue forward during the remainder of the session and will call upon our advocates to assist in this effort.

Open Carry Passes, Campus Carry Okay Looms...

On Wednesday, the Texas Senate approved its open carry bill, which has been sent to the House. That same day, the Senate also voted to give preliminary approval to its campus carry bill (SB 11), which was approved by the full Senate on Thursday. For a quick report, read the Texas Tribune's story: Campus Carry Gets Initial OK in Senate.

As we previously have reported, DCCCD and other higher education institutions across Texas have expressed concerns about campus carry for a number of reasons. The Austin American-Statesman published an editorial urging that state legislators move cautiously in considering both open carry and campus carry. Here's that editorial: Listen to all Texans on gun rights bills.

Tom Benning, Austin bureau reporter for the Dallas Morning News, wrote that the passage of campus carry may not bring as many guns into college classrooms as originally anticipated because age is a factor (Texans must be 21 or older to carry a weapon). Here's the full story: Few students would be likely to carry guns in Texas.

Along those lines, a group that opposes campus carry conducted a statewide poll which found 63 percent of Texans who were surveyed also oppose the legislation. Read more: Group opposed to 'campus carry' says its polling shows most Texans do too.

Both of these bills are now in the House for consideration.

Tax Relief and Finance Legislation Move Forward...

On Tuesday, Senate tax writers approved a school property tax cut of $206 for the average homeowner next year, along with a variety of tax breaks for businesses, especially small companies and service firms, according to the Dallas Morning News. The package would deliver $4.7 billion in reductions over the next two years - the amount promised by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senate GOP leaders last month. “Unlike the original Senate plan, slightly more of the relief would flow to businesses than to homeowners,” the paper reported.

Yesterday, the House Investigations and Ethics Committee asked some of the state's largest agencies about botched billing that led to Texas drivers being charged $1.7 million in erroneous toll fees and what procedures are in place now to ensure that vendors are selected properly. The same day, Senate Finance Committee members approved a bill by Sen. Jane Nelson that includes: tightening oversight in agencies by creating a database to track contracts, requiring ethics training and conflict disclosures, prohibiting deals with former employees and setting triggers for review. Read more in the Dallas Morning News story: Legislators move to tighten contract oversight of state agencies

Filing Deadline Passes, Higher Ed Bills Multiply...

The deadline to file bills for this session of the Texas Legislature was Friday, March 13. A flurry of bills were submitted, as expected - and a sizable number involved higher education, including community colleges.

This list is lengthy, but it is worth noting what has been filed:

Community college legislation

  • HB 2994 - Related to the transfer of territory between junior college district service areas.
  • HB 3062 - Related to the participation of an independent school district in the Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) Grant Program.
  • SB 1351 - Related to the transfer of certain duties of the comptroller, for the Jobs and Education for Texans Grant Program, to the Texas Workforce Commission.
  • HB 3248 - Related to state agency procedures and policies to protect and properly destroy certain information that identifies an individual.
  • HB 3348 - Related to authorization by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for certain public junior colleges to offer baccalaureate degree programs.
  • HB 3367 - Related to the establishment of state authorization reciprocity agreements for postsecondary distance learning courses.
  • HB 3384 - Related to the automatic admission of certain transfer students to general academic teaching institutions.
  • HB 3492 - Related to a permanent endowment to support the construction, acquisition, improvement, and equipping of buildings, facilities, and other improvements at public junior colleges.
  • HB 3498 - Related to the development of automatic transfer associate degree programs to facilitate the transfer of students from public junior colleges to general academic teaching institutions.
  • HB 3521 - Related to the establishment of limited-purpose public junior college districts by certain independent school districts.
  • HJR 136 - Proposes a constitutional amendment to establish a permanent endowment to support the construction, acquisition, improvement, and equipping of buildings, facilities, and other improvements at public junior and community colleges.
  • SB 1400 - Related to authorization by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for certain public junior colleges to offer baccalaureate degree programs.
  • SB 1470 - Related to establishing state authorization reciprocity agreements for postsecondary distance learning courses.
  • SB 1480 - Related to the development and alignment by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board of curricula for certain educational programs.
  • SB 1488 - Related to filing financial disclosure statements by trustees of an independent school district and a junior college district; creating a criminal offense.
  • SB 1514 - Related to establishing limited-purpose public junior college districts by certain independent school districts.

Higher Education

  • HB 3027 - Related to establishing the Texas Competency-Based Education Grant Program for certain students enrolled in competency-based online or other distance education baccalaureate degree programs at certain private institutions of higher education.
  • SB 1312 - Related to establishing the Texas Competency-Based Education Grant Program for certain students enrolled in competency-based online or other distance education baccalaureate degree programs at certain private institutions of higher education.
  • HJR 137 - Proposing a constitutional amendment providing for certain excess revenue to be dedicated toward contributions to state retirement systems, the health benefit plan for retired education employees and their dependents, the Texas Tomorrow fund, the permanent school fund, and the permanent university fund.
  • SB 1429 - Related to determining resident status of students by public institutions of higher education.
  • HB 3278 - Related to measures that support public school student academic achievement and career preparation, including measures to improve and support dual-credit courses.
  • HB 3483 - Related to limitations on the automatic admission of students to general academic teaching institutions.
  • HB 3587 - Related to determining resident status of students by public institutions of higher education.
  • SB 1543 - Related to the admission of undergraduate students with nontraditional secondary education to public institutions of higher education.
  • SB 1624 - Related to a requirement that entering undergraduate students at a public institution of higher education attend an orientation regarding mental health and suicide prevention services.
  • HB 2628 - Related to the development and alignment of curricula for certain educational programs by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
  • SB 1455 - Related to certain required reports, plans, and other documents prepared by state agencies and institutions of higher education.
  • HB 3467 - Related to a postsecondary distance learning feasibility study conducted by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
  • HB 3508 - Related to a college readiness memorandum of understanding between a school district and an institution of higher education.
  • HB 3577 - Related to the distribution of funds under the Texas Educational Opportunity Grant Program.

Tracking Bills...

Throughout the 84th session of the Texas Legislature, we will continue to have information on the DCCCD website where you can track bills of interest to the district.

Our list will be updated regularly. Categories include:

  • budget measures
  • local taxes/appraisal reform/revenue caps
  • baccalaureate degrees
  • handguns
  • transfer
  • undocumented student tuition
  • college readiness
  • dual credit/early college
  • boards
  • tuition and tuition exemptions
  • financial aid

Please contact us if you see a bill of interest or if you have any questions.

As the 84th session evolves, we will call upon many people in the DCCCD family to support our advocacy efforts.

Newsletter published by the Office of Public and Governmental Affairs, Dallas County Community College District. Please contact Justin Lonon for more information about DCCCD's legislative initiatives.​​