Tuesday, October 24, 2017

#TXLEGE: Highlights from Patrick's Second Interim Charges....

"The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing;
But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich."
Proverbs 13:4

Dan Patrick released his second round of interim charges today, the following caught our eye:
  • Teacher Compensation: Study current local, state, and/or national compensation strategies for classroom teachers and make recommendations to elevate the teaching profession as well as comprehensive policies to attract, retain, and reward teachers.
    • ie. Diverting existing funds from the bureaucracy into the classroom.
    • Note: The Senate passed a decent bill on this subject during the special session (that got gutted and rewritten in the House), but it's probably worth studying further to see if there's a better way to accomplish the goal.
  • Mandate Relief/Innovation: Review, modify, or abolish chapters of the education code. Specifically, study cost-drivers, unnecessary mandates, reduction/elimination of inefficiencies, focus on policies or opportunities targeted to improving student outcomes, and better utilization of taxpayer resources.
  • System/Campus Expansion: Consider what role the state should have in overseeing the approval and development of new higher education locations into geographical areas already served by existing institutions. Develop a long-term statewide strategy for authorizing new locations and programs which includes a plan to ensure adequate support for expansion. Explore where there are underserved areas of the state and what type of programs would best serve the population to fill regional workforce needs.
    • Note: LOL, take that UT Houston expansion.
  • Attorney General Jurisdiction: Examine the Attorney General's jurisdiction on issues of alleged violations of state laws regarding abortion and multi-jurisdictional human trafficking cases. Make recommendations to ensure uniform enforcement across the state.
  • Campus Free Speech: Ascertain any restrictions on Freedom of Speech rights that Texas students face in expressing their views on campus along with freedoms of the press, religion, and assembly. Recommend policy changes that protect First Amendment rights and enhance the free speech environment on campus.
  • Religious Liberty: Monitor the implementation of legislation that protects citizens' religious freedoms, including Senate Bill 24 (sermon safeguard) and House Bill 555 (religious liberty of county clerks), and make recommendations for any legislation needed to ensure that citizens' religious freedoms are not eroded by local ordinances or state or federal law.
  • Free Market Electricity: Examine the competitive nature of the Texas retail electric system and what government competitive intrusions in the free energy markets may have in distorting those markets. Review the impact of competitive versus noncompetitive retail electricity markets across the state in terms of price and reliability. Consider the projected impact of establishing competitive electric retail markets statewide.
  • Licensing and Fees: Review licensing requirements and fees imposed on entities within the committee's jurisdiction. Make recommendations for state licenses and fees that should be reduced, repealed or transitioned to private-sector enforcement.
One note on higher ed: We would have liked to see a charge related to tuition hikes as well.  That being said, the Senate passed a good solution on tuition last session.  The issue is getting it out of the House.

Read the full second round list here; learn more about the first round here.

Contrast Dan Patrick's priorities with Joe Straus' priorities here.

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