Dear House District 24 Constituents,
This has been an important week in the 83rd Legislature. Wednesday, March 27th we passed House Bill 5 as it relates to public school accountability, including assessment, and curriculum requirements authored by Public Education Committee Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock. And yesterday we passed House Bill 4 as it relates to the funding of certain water-related projects by the Texas Water Development Board; authorizing the issuance of revenue bonds authored by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Alan Ritter. I am proud to have voted in support of both these bills.
House Bill 5, the omnibus Education Reform bill, will:
- Reduce the number of end-of-course exams from 5 to 15.
- Give local districts the authority to decide how much those end of course exams should factor into a student's overall grade for a course instead of the state mandating a percentage
- Create one high school diploma plan to will allow students to earn an endorsement in one of five areas: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities, and Multi-Disciplinary Studies. This will further encourage schools to partner with community colleges and industry to develop rigorous courses that will prepare our students for the workforce.
- Create a new state rating system to measure schools on academic performance, financial performance, and community and student engagement. All three ratings would be released at the same time to provide a clearer understanding of a school's overall track record. It would use the understandable labels of A, B, C, D and F
A link to the text of the bill may be found here.
As a co-author of House Bill 5, I am proud to report that it passed with 145 votes in the Texas House of Representatives.
House Bill 4, creates the state water implementation fund for Texas and the state water implementation revenue fund for Texas. Over the next 50 years, both population and water demand in the state is estimated to significantly increase, while existing water supply is projected to decrease. HB 4 addresses the needs by creating the state water implementation fund for Texas and the state water implementation revenue fund for Texas.
House Bill 4:
- Creates the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT), an infrastructure bank that operates as a revolving fund, for financing water projects in the State Water Plan. SWIFT will be used to support the issuance of bonds and the proceeds will be lent to local entities.
- Creates the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas (SWIRFT), a fund necessary to provide additional support for the issuance of revenue bonds. The SWIRFT will work in concert with the SWIFT.
- Embraces conservation projects as part of the overall strategy to meet future needs.
- Requires the 16 Regional Water Planning Groups create a stakeholder committee to prioritize projects in their Regional Plan and sets general guidelines that must be considered when developing prioritization.
- Requires the Texas Water Development Board (TWBD) to adopt rules to develop a point system to prioritize projects and sets general guidelines TWDB must consider.
Creates a 7-person committee to provide oversight for the SWIFT and SWIRFT.
House Bill 4 passed with 146 votes.
These two bills mark the beginning of a dramatic change in the way the fastest growing state in the nation approaches its most basic infrastructure and policy priorities. My colleagues and I in the legislature will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of our education policies, which cover 1 in 10 schoolchildren in the United States. We will ensure that our water supply is available for the expanding population and the growing business community that will depend upon it. I am proud to have contributed to the passage of these two innovative measures, and will continue to develop proactive solutions for our state's most pressing needs.