83rd Legislature

Texas Education
10:35 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Texas Senate Considers School 'Voucher' Bills Despite House Ban

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 5:59 pm

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.

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Texas Legislature
9:53 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Is Increased Sales Tax The Answer To TxDOT Debt?

Even though raising the state sales tax could help with TxDOT debt, conservative groups like the Tea Party are staunchly opposed to any tax increase.
Eileen Pace TPR

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.

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Texas Legislature
3:55 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Lawmaker Takes Another Crack At Legalized Gambling In Texas

Texas State Capitol in Austin.
Ryan Poppe TPR News

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.

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Texas Legislature
9:40 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Agenda Texas: Freshman Rep. Donna Campbell Reflects On The Session So Far

Ben Philpott

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 9:00 pm

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?

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Health In Schools
4:15 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

Senate Bill Requires School Districts To Post School Nurse Schedule Online

Though the bill passed with a unanimous vote from the committe, there were people who testified against it.
Chris Eudaily TPR

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. 

Patti Quincy with the Texas Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers testified in favor of the bill.

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State Budget
11:51 am
Fri April 5, 2013

House Passes $93 Billion Budget, Says No To Private School Vouchers

Though the House didn't fully restore education from the 2011 cuts, it did put $3.5 billion back.
Flickr user Phil Ostroff cc

The Texas House passed a $93.5 billion budget bill that bans state funding of school vouchers and open-enrollment charter schools and paves the way for accepting Medicaid expansion.

During the debate on the budget, Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Corpus Christi, introduced the amendment that prohibits the funding of school vouchers.

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Texas Veterans
9:21 am
Fri April 5, 2013

Burned Veterans Statewide Could Get Summer Electric Bill Help

The San Antonio Military Medical Center.
Joint Base San Antonio

The Senate has passed Senate Bill 981, a bill giving electric utilities permission to help severely-burned war veterans with their high electric bills during the hot Texas summers.

A bill in the 2011 Legislature was passed for the same purpose, but it targeted only CPS Energy in San Antonio.

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Gun Violence In Schools
4:56 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Teacher Gun Training Bill Heads To House Floor For Debate/Vote

As the entire country continues to grapple with gun violence at schools, the Texas House could be close to a vote on teacher gun training.
Oleg Volt Wikipedia Commons

A bill that provides teachers with law enforcement training on how to "take-out" a gunman on campus moves one step closer to becoming law.

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Legislature Budget
3:11 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

With More Than 260 Amendments, House Budget Debate Expected To Last Into Evening

Ryan Poppe TPR News

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.

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Medicaid Expansion
2:35 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Texas Republican Stance On Medicaid Expansion Seems To Be Shifting

Texas Democrats, led by U.S. Congressman Joaquín Castro at the podium and his brother Julián, held a press conference Monday to talk about Medicaid expansion.
Ryan Poppe TPR

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.

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