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Governmental Relations

Legislative Update - Friday, May 16, 2011

Appropriations Conference Committee

A conference committee has been named to finalize state appropriations for the next biennium.  House conferees are: Jim Pitts (R), Waxahachie, Sylvester Turner (D), Houston, John Otto (R), Dayton, John Zerwas (R), Richmond, and Myra Crownover (R), Denton.  Senate conferees are: Steve Ogden (R), Bryan, Jane Nelson (R), Flower Mound, Tommy Williams (R), The Woodlands, Robert Duncan (R), Lubbock, and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D), McAllen. There is growing speculation that an appropriations bill may not be completed by the time the regular session ends, May 30, and that a special session may be called in July. Sen. Steve Ogden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, calls a special session “very likely”.

Concealed Handguns on Campus

Authority of license holders to carry handguns on public colleges and university buildings was added as an amendment to SB 1581 and passed the Senate.  SB 1581 includes varied fiscal matters related to higher education. SB 1581 is scheduled to be heard on the House floor this Wednesday, May 18.

Key Legislative Bills Approved by House or Senate

CSHB 9 –emphasizes a funding model designed to provide incentives and reward a strong focus on helping students complete their degrees by establishing  the Higher Education Outcomes-Based Funding Act. CSHB 9 requires, for a public junior college, the success measures considered by the coordinating board to include completion of developmental education in mathematics and English, the first college level mathematics or English course with a grade of “C” or higher, the first 30 semester credit hours at the institution, and transfer to a four-year college or university after the successful completion of at least 25 semester credit hours, and the total number of associate degrees or certificates awarded.  Amount of incentive based funding for this program to be based on amount to be approved in the Appropriations bill.  

CSHB 3025 prohibits a student from being required by an institution of higher education, in order to earn an associate degree, to complete more than the minimum number of semester credit hours required for the degree.  Requires each student enrolled in an associate or bachelor’s degree program at an institution of higher education to file a degree plan with the institution not later than the semester or term immediately following the semester or term in which the student earned a cumulative total of 30 or more semester credit - passed by the House.

HB 1244 –amends the Education Code to require the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to prescribe a single standard or set of standards to effectively measure student readiness as demonstrated by current research for each test designated by the coordinating board for use under the Texas Success Initiative. Requires an institution that requires a student to enroll in developmental coursework under the Texas Success Initiative to offer a range of developmental coursework or instructional support that includes the integration or technology to efficiently address the particular developmental needs of the student. The bill requires an institution to base developmental coursework on research-based best practices—passed by the House.  

Leo Zuniga
Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications