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St. Philip's College
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Governmental Relations

Legislative Update - Friday, April 8, 2011

HB 1- House Budget Bill   

HB 1 passed the House on a vote of 98-49. The $164.5 billion budget is $23 billion less from current biennium state and federal expenditures. Among many state appropriations reductions, including $8 billion less for public education and reductions to Medicare, HB 1 reduces TEXAS Grant funding by 41 percent, from $615 million to $365.7 million, provides no funding for enrollment growth, reduces community college employee group insurance appropriations, and reduces state contributions for community college employees from the current biennium level of $202.5 million to $102.8 million.  Rep. Jimmy Don  Aycock was successful in amending HB 1 to include the transfer of $140 million from instructional funds to employee group insurance for community colleges with no objection from House members. Without the amendment, community college employee group insurance reduction would have been 82 percent, from $323.2 million to $58.7 million. Rep.  Aycock’s amendment to HB 1 now has employee group insurance appropriations at $198 million, still less than the current biennium level of $323.2 million. HB 1 now awaits printing before it goes to the Senate for discussion and consideration. The Senate Finance committee is expected to meet daily next week as they work to complete the Senate version of the state budget bill.

Concealed Handguns on Campus

SB 354, that would allow concealed handguns in buildings of institutions of higher education was stalled in the Senate yesterday based on the loss of support from some state senators that want to amend the bill to include a local option to allow concealed handguns on campus.

Perkins Funds

HB 1497, was reported favorably out of the Higher Education Committee yesterday.  HB 1497 relates to the allocation of federal funds received by the Coordinating Board under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006.  HB 1497 allocates 60 percent of funding to support career and technology education at the secondary level and 40 percent of funds at the postsecondary level.

College Credit for Heroes

Javier Baron and John W. Westerbeck from the office of Veterans Affairs at St. Philip’s College provided testimony in favor of SB 1736 by Sen. Van de Putte.  The bill was reported favorably out of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Military Installations committee.  SB 1736 formalizes the relationship between the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the Coordinating Board (THECB) in order to identify methods that would maximize academic credit awarded by higher education institutions to veterans for military experience.  It will also require that by November 1, 2012, TWC and THECB shall submit to the Legislature and Governor a report on best practices for college credit for military veterans.

Property Code Amendment

HB 650, allowing junior colleges the option to retain property presumed abandoned valued at a $100 or less passed the House on Thursday, April 7.  

Physical Education Dual Credit Courses

SB 419, passed the Senate.  SB 419 prohibits state funding for public junior colleges for physical education courses offered for joint high school and junior college credit.  Efforts underway to determine if SB 419 exempts Early College High School students.

Student and Exchange Visitor Information System Notification

SB 1009, passed the Senate.  It requires public institutions of higher education to notify the Federal Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) immediately if a student attending on a student visa withdraws from the institution or withdraws from all courses in which a student is enrolled.

Ballot Language for Junior College District Annexation Election

SB 1226, passed the Senate.  SB 1226 requires that a ballot for a junior college district annexation election include language regarding the district’s taxing authority and current property tax rate.  The bill further requires that the ballot language for a junior college annexation election identify the name of the junior college district attempting to annex territory.

Leo Zuniga
Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications