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Texas PTA Legislative Update – Bills of Interest

Posted by Texas Education on February 16, 2009

I read about most of the new assignments in the Chron last week. Sorry for not updating sooner. I am certainly pleased and have been hearing of more and more “interesting” appointments that we can be proud of and happy about:

HOUSE COMMITTEES:
By the numbers – There are 76 Republicans in the Texas House and 74 Democrats. There are 34 committees. Eighteen (18 ) are chaired by Republicans; 16 are Democrats. Fifteen chairmen are in that position for the first time in their legislative careers. There are more Democrat chairs this session, more African-American chairs (5) and Hispanic chairs (4) than two years ago, and the same number of women chairs (7). The number of urban chairs fell by two, while the number of rural chairs fell by four; that balance is now 23 urban, 11 rural. (Texas Weekly)

Rep. Rob Eissler, (R) The Woodlands, returns to the chairmanship of Public Education.
Rep. Jim Pitts, (R) Waxahachie, returns to the chairmanship of Appropriations after losing the chairmanship last session due to his failed attempt to unseat Tom Craddick.

Over the next few days we will identify legislators to carry Texas PTA legislation in the House. We have been awaiting committee announcements before identifying authors for several bills.

For a complete list of committee assignments, visit
http://txpta.org/Legislative%20Articles/2009/February/House%20Committees%202.pdf

TEXAS PTA DAY AT THE CAPITOL:
February 26 is fast approaching and Texas PTA is excited to welcome several key legislators and statewide officeholders to the Centennial Rally at the Capitol. Chairman Jim Pitts, House Appropriations, Chairman Rob Eissler, House Public Education, Chairwoman Jane Nelson, Senate Health and Human Services, Commissioner Todd Staples, Agriculture Commission, Commissioner Larry Soward, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

PRIORITY LEGISLATION:
SB 61, Booster seat bill, has been referred to Senate Transportation. We expect a hearing in the next 2-3 weeks. We have met with key staff for each member of the committee and anticipate smooth sailing in committee.

HB 5, statewide smoke-free bill, was referred to House State Affairs. Unfortunately the makeup of this committee is problematic for our issue. Over the next few days we will be working to develop a strategy to deal with this. In the meantime, we hope to move the Senate version of the bill, SB 544, first. It has been referred to Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

SB 144, sales tax expansion bill, has been referred to the Finance Committee in the Senate. This bill is not Texas PTA’s version of the bill. We are working with the author, Sen. Ellis (D) Houston, requesting a substitution of our bill language. In the meantime, we are beginning meetings next week to identify a House sponsor.

HB 339, driver training program revision legislation that includes Texas PTA’s cell phone prohibition by driving teens, has not yet been referred to committee. This bill is carried by Rep. Larry Phillips (R) Sherman. Other bills that deal only with the cell phone use prohibition by driving teens, are expected to be filed in both the House and Senate in the next week to 10 days. Both the House and Senate drafts had to be resubmitted for corrections as they contained exemptions that were unacceptable. Rep. Jose Menendez (D) San Antonio, Sherman, and Sen. Tommy Williams (R) The Woodlands.

LEGISLATIVE REPORTS:
For information on all the bills being tracked by Texas PTA please click on the following links:

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