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On April 4, 2022, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released interim charges for the Texas Senate. TASA staff has compiled the following list of various charges that impact Texas public schools. See the full list of Senate interim charges.

Education Committee

  • Parent Empowerment: Review Texas’ existing parental rights and responsibilities in current law. Evaluate current public school practices toward parental and community engagement related to: curriculum and learning materials, campus and district management, governance, accessibility to school officials, and data usage and privacy. Make recommendations to enable parents to exert a greater influence on their child’s learning environment, including enacting meaningful change at their public school campus or district, and affirm parents as primary decision-makers over their child’s schooling options.
  • COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Educator Talent Pipeline: Examine the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the public school educator talent pipeline, staffing patterns and practices, and declining student enrollment and attendance. Review any policies and regulatory actions that prevent students from receiving instruction from a highly effective teacher. Monitor the impact of both the Teacher Incentive Allotment and non-administrator compensation increases directed under House Bill 3 (86th Legislature), as well as the teacher pay raises implemented in 2019. Explore innovative models to improve recruitment and make recommendations to maintain a strong educator workforce pipeline, while adapting resilient school strategies to meet emergent demands in public education.
  • Student Discipline: Review and evaluate the operation of disciplinary alternative education programs (DAEP) and juvenile justice alternative education programs (JJAEP) with an emphasis on: quality of academic instruction, lengths of placements, physical conditions, administration of student discipline and law enforcement interventions, implementation of positive behavior management strategies, and the availability and delivery of mental health support services. Make recommendations to support and promote the success of these programs and enhance the ability of public schools to meet the needs of students through innovative school discipline models.
  • School Library Advisory Council Review: Assess current standards adopted by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, the State Board of Education, and public school policies and practices related to materials in campus libraries or servers. Assess current adoption, placement, and review structures for library materials and make recommendations to ensure: 1) materials are grade, age, and developmentally appropriate; 2) publicly searchable and accessible; and 3) parents and the public are given a prominent role in the process.
  • Vaping in Schools: Examine the enforcement of current law, which requires school districts to prohibit the use or possession of e-cigarettes, tobacco products, or “vape pens.” Determine whether existing practices are effective at preventing vaping or use of other tobacco products on school campuses. Identify methods for schools to determine the contents within vape pens, including whether the pen contains nicotine, THC, or other chemicals. Investigate and report on the impact to student health, and determine if additional policies or laws are needed to protect students’ health.
  • Bond Efficiency: Conduct a comprehensive review of the school district bond issuance process. Specifically, review public notice and disclosure requirements, the bond election process, procurement requirements, and how unused bond proceeds may be utilized. Study the best practices implemented by school boards and make recommendations to improve bond issuance efficiencies.
  • Local Government Exclusion: Investigate how some cities and counties are prohibiting the expansion of charter schools through local ordinances. Make recommendations to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of charter schools and independent school districts.
  • Homestead Exemption: Study the use and effect of the optional homestead exemption available to independent school districts. Examine and report on costs to the state if school districts receive incentives to increase the optional percentage exemption.
  • Monitoring: Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Education passed by the 87th Legislature, as well as relevant agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction. Specifically, make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, or complete implementation of the following:
    • Senate Bill 3 (87th Legislature, Second Called Session), Relating to civics training programs for certain public school social studies teachers and principals, parental access to certain learning management systems, and certain curriculum in public schools, including certain instructional requirements and prohibitions;
    • Senate Bill 15 (87th Legislature, Second Called Session), Relating to virtual and off-campus electronic instruction at a public school, the satisfaction of teacher certification requirements through an internship teaching certain virtual courses, and the allotment for certain special-purpose school districts under the Foundation School Program;
    • Senate Bill 1365 (87th Legislature), Relating to public school organization, accountability, and fiscal management;
    • Senate Bill 1716 (87th Legislature), Relating to a supplemental special education services and instructional materials program for certain public school students receiving special education services;
    • House Bill 1525 (87th Legislature), Relating to the public school finance system and public education;
    • House Bill 4545 (87th Legislature), Relating to the assessment of public school students, the establishment of a strong foundations grant program, and providing accelerated instruction for students who fail to achieve satisfactory performance on certain assessment instruments;
    • House Bill 3 (86th Legislature), relating to public school finance and public education; and
    • House Bill 3906 (86th Legislature), relating to the assessment of public school students, including the development and administration of assessment instruments, and technology permitted for use by students.

Other Senate Interim Charges Relating to Public Education

Business and Commerce Committee

  • Broadband and Telecommunications: Study broadband and other telecommunications related issues impacting Texans, including:
    • Monitoring the implementation of House Bill 5 and House Bill 1505, 87th Legislature; discuss anticipated federal infrastructure funding dedicated to broadband initiatives;
    • Reviewing the Texas Universal Service Fund and reporting what, if any, changes should be made through a review of both the fund’s contributions and disbursements, as well as the impact of technology on the long-term stability of the Texas Universal Service Fund; and
    • Monitoring the implementation of House Bill 2911, 87th Legislature, relating to next generation 9-1-1 service and the establishment of a next generation 9-1-1 service fund.
  • Cybersecurity: Review current state and federal laws regarding cybersecurity protections and requirements for local governments, state agencies, and critical industries of our state. Make recommendations for legislation to improve resilience and protection against cybersecurity attacks and ensure the privacy protection of the citizens of Texas.
  • State Workforce: Study where state employees are located and the benefits and drawbacks of remote working. Evaluate the impact of the potential growth of remote work and proximity of employees to their place of employment on traffic studies over the next 10 years. Study and make recommendations for establishing uniform statewide standards for remote work. Study possible implications and standards for statewide recruitment and employment of remote state employees from all parts of the state.

Finance Committee

  • Federal Funds: Report on the state use of federal COVID-19 relief funds provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, the American Rescue Plan Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Acts, and similar federal legislation. Examine local use of federal relief funding, including funding provided to school districts through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. Evaluate the overall fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on state agencies, including costs incurred due to federal mandates. Identify barriers to the effective utilization of funds and make recommendations on the expenditure of unappropriated funds. In addition, evaluate and report on the spending by state agencies that have been utilizing “one-time” federal funding (temporary enhancements, e.g. FMAP and ESSER) sources, where federal funding will likely be significantly reduced in future biennia.
  • Property Tax Relief: Examine and recommend ways to reduce Texans’ property tax burden. Review and report on proposals to use or dedicate state revenues in excess of the state spending limit to eliminate the school district maintenance and operations property tax.
  • Inflation: Review and report on the effect inflation is having on the business community and state government, including state salaries, retiree benefits, the state economy, and cost of state services.
  • Inflation: Review and report on the impact of inflation on units of local governments’ revenue collections and property taxpayers’ tax bills, including the homestead exemption.
  • Tax Exemptions: Examine Texans’ current tax exemptions and report on whether adjustments are merited because of inflation or any other factors.
  • State Pension Reforms: Monitor the implementation of recent statewide pension reforms to the Employees Retirement System of Texas and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

Higher Education Committee

  • Workforce Education: Evaluate state efforts to support access to work-based learning and microcredential opportunities, including apprenticeships, industry- based certificates and certifications, as well as competency-based education. Assess the potential benefits of expanding access to work-based learning, apprenticeships, microcredentials, and industry-based certifications that are aligned to workforce needs and provide in-demand workforce skills and competencies. Evaluate existing resources and programs at institutions, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas Workforce Commission to support these opportunities and ultimately reach Tri-Agency goals. Consider recommendations to standardize these programs in order increase postsecondary degree completions.
  • Enrollment Trends: Study the postsecondary enrollment trends across all sectors and levels of higher education in Texas, with a review on specific challenges to enrollment. Consider the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on direct high school-to-college enrollment, first-time college enrollment, transferability, and retention rates, as well as the overall impact on community college enrollment. Make recommendations on specific methods to address disparities and pandemic impacts relating to enrollment trends in order to achieve Texas’ higher education goals in building a Talent Strong Texas.
  • Teaching and Health Care Workforce Participation: Review financial aid and scholarship opportunities in Texas related to teaching, health care, and law enforcement, and examine methods to increase participation in these and other high-demand fields. In particular, study the participation rates of the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program, the Peace Officer Loan Repayment Program, and the Nursing Corps Loan Repayment Program, and make recommendations on ways to increase participation rates in each area.
  • Monitoring: Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Higher Education passed by the 87th Legislature, as well as relevant agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction. Specifically, make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, or complete implementation of the following:
    • House Bill 3767, relating to measures to support the alignment of education and workforce development in the state with state workforce needs, including the establishment of the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative.

Local Government Committee

  • Property Tax Reform: Review the effect of Senate Bill 2 (86th Legislature), the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019, and related legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. Make recommendations for further property tax reform and relief.
  • Appraisal Reform: Review the implementation of Senate Bill 63, House Bill 988, and other related legislation passed by 87th Legislature. Make recommendations to ensure appraisal guidelines are effective and taxpayers have enforcement mechanisms.
  • Bond Elections: Review and report on voter participation and bond election result differences between November and May elections. Make recommendations for improved voter turnout, increased election efficiencies, and better accountability of local debt.
  • Taxpayer Funded Lobbying: Study how governmental entities use public funds for political lobbying purposes. Examine what types of governmental entities use public funds for lobbying purposes and what level of transparency is available to the public. Make recommendations to protect taxpayers from paying for lobbyists who may not represent the taxpayers’ interests.
  • Ballot Language: Study the development of the language used for constitutional amendment and local ballot propositions. Recommend changes to make ballot propositions more easily understood by voters.

State Affairs Committee

  • Elections Administration: Study how the allocation of polling locations are determined for early voting and election day for counties with and without county-wide voting and report whether current law provides for an equitable distribution. Study the protocols and scheduling of proper maintenance and calibration of election equipment and recommend what is required for maximum efficiency, accuracy, and security. Study the history of a holiday falling within the early voting period and recommend methods to ensure that early voting always has the required number of days and every qualified voter has the opportunity to vote. Study and recommend whether the state should shorten the primary election runoff period in Texas in order to allow voters to know who their candidate is sooner—while remaining in compliance with the federal MOVE Act. Make recommendations to ensure it is easy to vote and hard to cheat.
  • Investment Practices: Study the investment practices of financial services firms and how those practices affect the state’s public pensions. Make recommendations to ensure the state’s public pension funds are not being invested to further political or social causes.

Transportation Committee

  • Driver’s License Efficiency: Study the Department of Public Safety’s driver’s license program operations and make recommendations to improve the efficiency of services while maintaining individual privacy and security for Texans.
  • Alternatively Fueled Vehicles: Review the Texas Department of Transportation’s plan for federal funding related to alternatively fueled vehicle infrastructure development. Examine the increase of private and public owned alternatively fueled vehicles registered in the state and make recommendations for road user fee fairness between alternatively fueled vehicles and gasoline and diesel vehicles.