Legislative Update > 2015 Legislative Updates > May 13, 2015 (Vol 5, Number 13)

May 13, 2015 (Vol 5, Number 13)

This Week in Austin….

As the session winds down, tensions ramp up while state legislators work to pass a variety of bills, from budgets to tax cuts, from fracking to local control, and much, much more.

DCCCD Priorities Move Forward….

DCCCD's efforts to offer a baccalaureate degree in early childhood education continued to move forward this week. HB 3836 passed the House last week and was referred to the Senate Higher Education Committee on Wednesday, where movement is still pending. The district’s advocacy team continues to work with legislators to pass the bill and help solve a Pre-K teacher shortage, which prevents almost 39,000 youngsters in the Dallas area from having access to those classrooms.

Recruit Texas, or HB 1155, would benefit workforce and economic development in Texas by the way our state brings new businesses to Texas.  The bill has been passed by the House and remains in the Senate Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee.  DCCCD is leading efforts to move the bill through the Senate and to the Governor’s desk.

DCCCD is a leader in the field of online learning, and SB 1470 – which establishes state reciprocity agreements for postsecondary distance learning courses – has passed both the House and the Senate; it now awaits the Governor’s signature. The bill directs the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to enter into a state authorization reciprocity agreement and to coordinate the statewide application and approval process. Both public and private institutions of higher education can participate. 

SB 1470 is important because it enables Texas to participate in the voluntary State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). Colleges and universities in Texas have to seek authority from other states to offer online courses and programs across state lines; the same applies when other states want to offer distance learning courses in Texas.  SARA helps with that process. For background information about SARA, read Inside Higher Ed’s story, State authorization reciprocity effort passes tipping point, supporters say.

Campus carry, or SB 11, which would allow individuals to carry handguns on “the campuses of and certain other locations associated with institutions of higher education – and which would provide a criminal penalty” – was reported favorably on Thursday in the House without amendments.  As legislators face mounting deadlines, the bill may pass as an amendment to another bill or it may simply die.

House Faces Death of Bills….

The House had until the end of Thursday to take initial action on any bill or resolution coming out of that chamber, according to the Texas Tribune.  That means if a House bill wasn't voted on by midnight, it turns into "the legislative equivalent of a pumpkin."; State representatives stayed until 11 p.m. on Wednesday, knowing that the critical deadline was fast approaching the next day. Read more in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Time’s up: Clock runs out on some bills in the House

Counting Down Other Bills….

A standoff between the House and Senate over tax cuts continues, and the Senate is losing, according to Texas Monthly in this story: THE END GAME. The House and Senate are sparring over tax cuts and tax relief, respectively. The House bill includes an historic cut in the state sales tax while the Senate version cuts business and property taxes. On Tuesday, the House's tax writing committee took up the Senate's proposal to cut property taxes by raising homeowners' residential homestead exemption. The battle continues in a conference committee, and community colleges across the state – including DCCCD – likely will see budget cuts. Read more in the Texas Tribune: The Brief: Chambers Are a Long Way From Kumbaya on Tax Cuts

Several bills passed this week in the House and Senate, or actions were taken, that affect higher education.  Here's a quick list:

84(R) HB 1051, related to the creation of the Texas State Technical College System in Ellis County, was passed by the Senate and is on its way to the Governor for his signature.

84(R) HB 505, which would prohibit limitations on the grade level and number of dual credit courses or hours in which a public high school student can enroll, was passed by the Senate and awaits the Governor's signature.

84(R) SB 27, related to the online broadcast of open meetings of institutions of higher education, was the subject of a public hearing in the House on Wednesday.

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.