UPDATE 5:59 The Senate Committee on Education heard SB 1575 this afternoon from educators and parents supporting the so-called voucher program that would give parents money to move their children from public to private schools.
The bill’s author Senator Donna Campbell of New Braunfels said that parents and students should have a choice in schooling and claim that failing public schools set back children across the state.
In order to curb the amount of debt owed by the Texas Department of Transportation, Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, is proposing the state raise the sales tax by one-half cent.
"Over the past ten years a large part of funding for TxDOT projects has been done by issuing debt. TxDOT has outstanding debt exceeding $12 billion. If we continue down this path it will 2045 before all these bonds are paid off and it will cost the taxpayers about $28 billion including principal and interest," Eltife said.
This is the sixth gambling bill that Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, has authored in the last decade and he is hoping for the passage of a constitutional amendment that allows Texas voters to decide on the issue of legalized gambling.
Have you ever watched a debate at the Texas Capitol? It’s not always the easiest thing to follow. With all the speakers and amendments and votes that it takes for just one bill to pass, it’s not hard to get lost.
Well what if you were one of the lawmakers, trying to navigate these legislative waters for the first time?
A bill that requires schools districts to notify parents when a school nurse will be on campus wins unanimous approval with the Senate Committee on Education.
The bill is being carried by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and requires schools to post online for parents the days and times a nurse is available. Currently the average ratio of nurses to student is 1 to 861.
Both Republicans and Democrats say it will be a long day as the House considers a Senate budget bill. An amendment added by Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, addresses the possibility of Medicaid expansion in Texas.
The Obama Administration gave states the option of either implementing a Health Exchange system or signing on for Medicaid expansion. Up until now Republicans have been against both plans, but Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, has indicated that health exchanges may be the right choice for Texas.
"This allows us to comfortably draw down the money from the federal government attributed to providing healthcare to the group of people who are the 130 percents," Zerwas said.