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March 22, 2019      3:44 PM

Some Texas House members getting antsy looking for numbers on how ISDs will fare under school finance plan

In school finance debates, impacts to individual districts often create winners and losers under major system shifts. Chairman Huberty has urged members to trust the process and principles behind the bill

Texas House leaders are decidedly tight-lipped on the actual impact their school finance plan will make on individual school budgets, a departure from past sessions. The House has a school finance bill with many moving parts, the most complicated school finance bill since the passage of then-Rep. Scott Hochberg’s HB 3646 in 2009.

At this point in the passage of a school finance bill, the first runs – a spreadsheet of the impact of the bill on school district budgets – would be circulating among House members. Both the Texas Education Agency and the Legislative Budget Board produce these runs, although it will be the work of the LBB that will ultimately guides final numbers.

To be clear, school finance runs currently do exist. The point of contention is over who has seen them.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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March 22, 2019      2:41 PM

People on the Move

Appointments, key hires, and staffing up for 2020

Folks are working through the weekend on budget amendments, reading bills that are set for hearings, and Sen. Bob Hall’s being accused of carrying a RINO version of the red light camera ban.

This session just keeps getting better.

Meantime, folks are already gearing up for reelection efforts since there’s absolutely no separation between campaigns and governance anymore. There are also more appointments to tell you about as well as key hires at big firms.

Share your career news anytime at ksbraddock@gmail.com and put POTM in the subject line. Nothing is too big or too small and yes, you can share the news of others. That’s why it’s called a gossip rag. Thank you.

Here’s this week’s edition of People on the Move:

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By Scott Braddock

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March 21, 2019      4:29 PM

Chair Hancock clashes with TMA as he rolls out his bill aimed at surprise billing

TMA argues the root of the problem is “the networks that the insurance companies have set up which are inadequate”

Doctors and patients squared off before the Texas Senate Business and Commerce Committee on Thursday over the issue of "surprise billing."

The Texas Association of Health Plans supports the bill by Chairman Kelly Hancock but the group stayed in the background during the hearing as Hancock confronted the Texas Medical Association in an often testy exchange.

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By Andrew Turner

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March 21, 2019      4:25 PM

Red light camera ban set for a hearing on Tuesday in House Transportation

As Hall's bill stalls out in the Senate after compromise language was offered, Rep. Stickland's bill with supermajority support starts moving

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March 20, 2019      4:22 PM

Freshman House members in both parties work to build relationships while encountering challenges they did not expect

“One thing that people say is ‘I’m not here to make friends I’m here to get stuff done.’ Well, if you want to get stuff done you better make friends”

There’s a whole new crop of freshmen members of the Texas House this session, including a number of younger leaders and an increase in the number of Democrats who made incursions into Republican territory last November.

Erin Zwiener D-Driftwood is one the roughly 30 new members of the House and one of the 12 Democrats that flipped formerly Republican seats. In an interview with Quorum Report, the freshman and new mother told us about the realities of the new job from her perspective.

“We, like any other freshman office, have to take this one day at a time,” she said. “There are a lot of unknowns for us freshmen.”

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By Andrew Turner

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March 20, 2019      4:20 PM

House General Investigating sets March 25 at 1pm for briefing on new sexual harassment procedures

Meeting will be "an overview of policies and procedures as they relate to inappropriate workplace conduct."

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March 20, 2019      4:18 PM

Support seems to drop for banning red light cameras as Sen. Hall rolls out compromise language

Per the fiscal note, if the bill was effective immediately, the state’s trauma center fund, which the cameras benefit, would lose $28 million. If implemented in September, the fund would lose $21 million

Edgewood Republican Senator Bob Hall’s ban on real light cameras hit a bump in the road in Senate Transportation Committee today after he rolled out substitute language allowing cities to honor current contracts.

That change drew opposition from some of those who had been the bill’s most ardent supporters.

Red light cameras, Hall said, deny due process and are not proven to improve public safety. One of his issues is what he says is an unconstitutional appeals process automatically painting the driver as guilty.

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By James Russell

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March 20, 2019      4:00 PM

Texas Senate passes disaster response bills

Lt. Gov. Patrick says SBs 6, 7, and 8, "are key to our rebuilding effort following Hurricane Harvey and mitigating future flood disasters across the state."

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March 20, 2019      9:18 AM

Beto campaign says the average contribution was $47 in his $6.1 million haul

128,000 donors contributed in the first 24 hours of O'Rourke's bid, his campaign announced this morning

Via Todd Gillman at the DMN:

Beto O'Rourke announced Wednesday that more than 128,000 donors contributed to his record breaking first day haul of $6.1 million, for an average of $47 per donation.

The former three term El Paso congressman jumped into the presidential race last Thursday and detractors had alleged that high dollar donors rather than a grassroots outpouring may have padded his tally.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' brought in $5.9 million during his first 24 hours last month, from 223,047 donors, with an average of $27.

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March 19, 2019      5:47 PM

In moving HB 3, Texas House Public Education Committee reframes school finance discussion

Veterans calling HB3 the most significant school finance legislation in nearly 40 years

The House view of the school finance system in House Bill 3 is a subtle, yet significant shift away from the current rationale that has pitted poor against rich school districts.

The House school finance bill passed the House Public Education Committee on a 13-0 vote today, with lawmakers of both parties lavishing praise on the bill. Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, lamented the absence of Houston ISD at the hearing last week, but called HB 3 the most significant school finance legislation passed in his 18 terms in the House.

That current Robin Hood rationale behind school finance has been challenged on a number of fronts: School districts with high-dollar property often have low-wealth schoolchildren. Quirks in the code would show preference to property-wealthy districts, such as reducing recapture during disasters but leaving property-poor districts waiting for the state to dedicate dollars.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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March 19, 2019      2:32 PM

School finance reform bill, HB3, advances in Texas House

Texas Aspires laments the fact merit pay provisions were removed by Texas AFT says it "sends an important signal that educator salaries should not be tied to standardized tests..."

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March 18, 2019      5:14 PM

House moves budget, substitutes supplemental budget, with a heavy reliance on the Rainy Day Fund

Chair Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, guided House Appropriations to approval of substitutes of a House budget bill and the Senate supplemental budget bill this morning.  

The approval process was fairly smooth, although multiple members of the Texas State Employees Union reminded the panel about low pay and insufficient pensions for state employees, pensions even smaller than those currently offered to retired teachers.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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March 18, 2019      4:18 PM

Teacher merit pay provisions apparently struck from Texas House school finance bill

Those close to the drafting process say most sections around teacher pay have been struck from HB 3, replaced with a simple pay raise tied to increases in the basic allotment offered in the bill

The most ambitious language around teacher pay appears to be scrubbed from the substitute of the Texas House’s school finance bill to be discussed in House Public Education on Tuesday.

The model for teacher pay in the original House Bill 3 was an ambitious, but somewhat problematic, model.

But it was, for all intents and purposes, the preferred model for both lawmakers and teacher groups in the early weeks of session because of two claims: the bill would not rely on test scores to reward teacher performance and would not be a “merit pay” bill.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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March 18, 2019      4:09 PM

Speaker Bonnen intends to have the budget on the House floor next Wednesday, the 27th

After Appropriations today voted out the budget and supplemental, pre-filing of amendments for HB1 will end at 10am this coming Sunday

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March 16, 2019      12:49 PM

SB: State of the Senate

After the bathroom war with business, Senate leadership is content to dismiss major business concerns not only on the paid sick leave bill but oil and gas along with transportation interests were given the brush off over eminent domain

It is fair to say that in Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s first two sessions as presiding officer of the Texas Senate, he had a legislative chamber built for speed. This was on full display in 2017 as the Republican supermajority almost effortlessly passed “conservative” bill after “conservative” bill, leaving the Texas House with the leverage – and time – to kill those deemed overreaching.

After two Republicans lost their races in DFW last year, though, Patrick has struggled to move even emergency items and only this past week did he unveil his 30 priority bills of the session. Last session, he started out with a similar list that all easily won approval in the upper chamber.

This year the list includes a $5,000 teacher pay raise – the Senate’s centerpiece of school finance reform which falls short of Patrick’s $10,000 goal. Right-wing enforcement groups have been calling the expenditure, committing future Legislatures to those spending levels, irresponsible. The raises represent 44% of the budget surplus. What happens when there is not a $9 billion surplus?

And just this week, every Republican senator defied the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Chairman Tim Dunn’s Empower Texans in passing a supplemental budget that would make a $4.3 billion withdrawal from the Economic Stabilization Fund.

Let’s review the State of the Senate.

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By Scott Braddock

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March 15, 2019      4:55 PM

People on the Move

lobby moves, staffing changes, and more

Bill filing is done and the best caption nominees have been named. Among them:

Relating to the regulation of raising or keeping six or fewer chickens by a political subdivision

Relating to the random drug testing of members of the legislature during a legislative session

Relating to egg grading

Relating to the personal use exemption for domestic rabbit meat.

Relating to an annual football game between The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University

Thanks to former Rep. Corbin Van Arsdale for always compiling the list. Here’s one I thought he missed: "Relating to a prohibition on the sale of prophylactics containing nitrosamines.” Turns out that one was included in the original list but it has to be whittled down to 50 entries. May the funniest caption win, but as Parliamentarian Sharon Carter said during a recent event, don’t rely too heavily on the caption when trying to revive your dead bill. The body of the legislation is going to guide decisions on germaneness, Carter said. Good luck.

Meantime, there are lobby moves, staffing changes, and more to tell you about. To share your career news – or move of a friend or adversary – email it to ksbraddock@gmail.com and use POTM in the subject line.

Thank ya.

Here’s this week’s edition of People on the Move:

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By Scott Braddock

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March 15, 2019      4:07 PM

Sen. Bettencourt takes different approach on lobbyists hired by local governments

Unlike the House Freedom Caucus-supported “ban on taxpayer funded lobbyists,” Bettencourt says he is focused on transparency through additional reporting requirements

Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, offered up his kinder, gentler version of “taxpayer-funded lobbying” legislation this week – increased transparency rather than an outright ban – during a Senate State Affairs Committee hearing that also covered lawmaker ethics, human trafficking and an actuarial fix to the teacher’s pension fund.

Freshman Rep. Mayes Middleton, R-Wallisville, filed the perennial ban of “taxpayer-funded lobbyists,” House Bill 281, that amended a section of code that applied to county representation.

The language is broadened to include all local jurisdictions, including mobility authorities and transit systems.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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March 15, 2019      3:29 PM

General Investigating Chairman Meyer working to reschedule sexual harassment briefing that had been slated for Monday

Committee staff says there were scheduling conflicts for some of the experts that had been lined up to speak at the information session schedule for Monday in the auditorium. It's postponed for now and will be rescheduled ASAP, we are told.

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