Both the House and Senate will reconvene on Monday, March 11 at 4 p.m. and 3p.m. respectively
Spotlight on Bills
Disaster Legislation Filed
SB 8 (Perry) creating the first statewide flood plan, SB 6 (Kolkhorst) best practices for disaster response, SB 9 (Creighton) creation of a fund to pay for floor mitigation projects. In addition to the $1.8 billion to fund the filed bills, $1.2 billion will be sought to pay back recovery and response costs incurred by local and state agencies during the last year and a half. Some of that money will also go towards school districts to cover tax revenue lost due to the devaluation of property from storm damage. Kolkhorst said that some of these numbers could change as state budget writers work through the process.

Open Government Legislation Filed
SB 1640 (Watson) and HB 3402 (Phelan) address an issue caused by the Court of Criminal Appeals striking down a provision of the Open Meetings Act. The language in the bill addresses the Court’s concerns by replacing vague phrases with more precise language designed to capture the same scope of prohibited activities.

House Public School Funding Bill Filed and Committee Hearing This Week
House Public Education Committee Chair Dan Huberty filed HB 3 last week, the House’s major school finance bill referred to as “The Texas Plan.” The bill adds $9 billion in funding, which includes $6.3 billion for schools (above enrollment growth), $2.7 billion for property tax relief, raises the Basic Allotment from $5,140 to $6,030, reduces recapture, invest in students and teachers, and puts more money into classrooms. The bill has almost 100 joint authors and co-authors. The bill will be taken up in committee this week on March 12. Testimony will be limited to 2 minutes. The Senate’s version of a school finance bill, SB 4, by Senate Education Chair Larry Taylor was filed on Friday. It contained placeholder language.

Senate Teacher and Librarian Pay Bill Passes Out of Senate
This week SB 3 (Nelson) as substituted and amended was passed out of the Senate unanimously on March 4th. The adopted amendment is now reflected in the bill caption which reads: Relating to additional funding to school districts for classroom teacher and librarian salaries. The bill has now been sent over the House to consider.

Senate Mental Health Bill Passes Out of Senate
The Senate passed Sen. Jane Nelson’s SB 10 on Tuesday, March 5. SB 10 proposes to create the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium and is designed to leverage research institutions, expand behavioral health care for children, and educate local officials on available mental health resources. Nelson accepted several amendments on the Senate floor strengthening language in the bill related to parental rights, prohibiting the sale of personal data acquired under the bill, and prohibiting the Consortium from accepting third-party gifts and donations. Nelson noted that the protections were largely built into existing law, but that she was not opposed to clarification in the amendments. SB 10 will now move to the House for further consideration.

Spotlight on Upcoming Legislative Hearings
For the latest updates on all legislative committee hearings, visit “Legislative News from Texas” frequently to confirm hearings since dates and times can and do change. Standing committee hearings held at the Capitol, live and archived, can be listened to at the following links: House | Senate.