Last night the 87th Legislature adjourned its Second Called Special Session, sine die, after passing Sen. Bryan Hughes’ SB 3 (also known as the critical race theory bill), adding funding for a 13th TRS check, and restoring funding for the legislative branch of government.
Earlier on Thursday, the House adopted several amendments to SB 3 to:
- Clarify intent on discussing controversial topics
- Clarify that no private cause of action against school employees is created
- Clarify that repealing the specific list of social studies knowledge and skills required in HB 3979, as passed in the regular session, does not mean these skills should not be currently taught or removed from the social studies TEKS when next revised in 2021-2023 (see list in floor amendment)
- Specify that the commissioner will appoint a nine-member civics training program advisory board and require the nine members to be current or former educators with 10 years or more of experience
- Preserve students’ ability to receive credit for participation in internships, including for CTE/P-TECH programs, with organizations that lobby, as long as the student isn’t personally involved in lobbying efforts
- Clarify that a teacher can direct a classroom activity that involves a student communicating with an elected official if the school or teacher does not “influence the content” of a student’s communication
After passing the House as amended, the Senate concurred with the amendments to SB 3, which will next be sent to the governor’s desk.
The House and Senate also quickly passed HB 5 to restore funding to the legislative branch of government. Gov. Greg Abbott had vetoed this funding shortly after the conclusion of the regular session. HB 5 also funds $701 million for a 13th check for TRS retired educators, $100 million in property tax relief, and other expenditures.
SB 15 by Senate Education Committee Chair Larry Taylor and House sponsor Rep. Keith Bell that provides state funding for district remote learning programs and SB 9 by Sen. Joan Huffman and House Sponsor Public Education Committee Chair Harold Dutton on dating violence have also been passed by both chambers and will go to the governor’s desk.
Left unfinished was Rep. Dan Huberty’s HB 233 on accelerated instruction. The bill’s intent was to provide districts with much-needed relief from the stringent requirements of HB 4545 passed during the regular session, including the requirement to provide accelerated and supplemental instruction at a 3:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Districts are finding that section of the bill difficult to implement as the pandemic has resurged and qualified staff and substitutes are harder to find. Although the House passed the bill as amended on Thursday afternoon, the Senate did not have a companion bill and did not hear the bill after it was passed by the House, thus HB 233 ultimately died due to lack of time in the session.
No bills regarding the requirement or prohibition of face coverings were passed.
The Second Called Special Session — a 30-day session that was to conclude Sunday, September 5 — ended early. It is anticipated that the governor will soon call another special session related to redistricting and other items.