Ahead of the Texas Legislature’s Special Session, which starts July 18, Texas State Representative Dan Huberty and Senator Brandon Creighton recapped the regular legislative session, bills that were passed and what to expect with the special session.
Huberty and Creighton were the special guests during the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce’s State of the State luncheon June 26, where they also had the chance to take questions from constituents.
“This was a different session, clearly; for us in the Legislature, it was tough,” Huberty said. “This was my first session as the chairman of the public education committee.”
The Texas Legislature meets every odd-numbered year for 140 consecutive days. When all was said and done, more than 6,800 bills and joint resolutions were filed in both the House and Senate and more than 1,220 of those bills and resolutions were adopted by both chambers and sent to Governor Greg Abbott.
If all of the bills and legislation are not resolved before the end of the 140-day mark, the governor can call a special session to handle these issues, which he did. The special session will cover several different issues, such as a teacher pay increase of $1,000, administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices, school finance commission, and school choice for students with special needs, to name a few.
The special session can last up to 30 days and the legislative process starts over again, which means legislators must refile bills and redebate bills like in regular session.
“We (Texas) are required by the Constitution to pass a balanced budget and we did that this past session,” Huberty said. “When it comes to education, 37 percent of the budget goes toward education and 36 percent goes toward health and human services. We were able to set aside $75 million for districts experiencing rapid property value decreases and maintained $47.5 million for the new instructional facilities allotment. This is important for school districts like Humble ISD which is opening new schools like the elementary school in The Groves.”
Huberty also spoke on a new bill, “David’s Law,” which addresses cyberbullying in schools. The bill relates to the harassment, bullying and cyberbullying of a public school student or minor, certain mental health programs for public school students, and increasing a criminal penalty.
“When we were kids, the bullies would stay at school and home was a place where we could spend time with our friends and family; but now, with social media, we face bullying everywhere,” Huberty said. “It just continues to get worse and it is frustrating. We also have done more the past few sessions to help children with special needs. We have more to do.”
Additionally, Creighton worked on several items in his legislative agenda, such as supporting the ports in Texas, which helps business and the economy; funding for transportation and water infrastructure; and budgeting for Child Protective Services.
“We worked closely with Huberty on David’s Law and will work to tackle the school finance system and eventually overhaul property tax issues,” Creighton said. “I want to continue to hear from our constituents on things we can work and improve on. In my time, I have never seen 19-20 issues that need to be dealt with during the special session, so we will work hard to make sure everything is handled during these 30 days.”
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