By State Representative Ron Reynolds
May 27 was the 140th day of the 83rd Legislative Session, otherwise known as Sine Die around the Capitol. It would have marked the end of the Legislative Session; however, I agree with Governor Perry’s announcement of a special that began at 6 p.m. on May 27. In his words, “There is still work to be done on behalf of the citizens of Texas.”
The special session will consider legislation which ratifies and adopts the interim redistricting plans ordered by the federal district court as the permanent plans for districts used to elect members of the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate and United States House of Representatives. You may learn more here.
It has been a productive and rewarding session, but I look forward to getting back to Fort Bend and seeing all of my constituents back in the district. Please note that I will be hosting a 83rd Legislative Session Town Hall meeting on Saturday June 8, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Abiding Faith Baptist Church, 15376 Fondren Road, Missouri City.
The 83rd Legislative Session has concluded, but I continue to work hard in Austin for District 27. In the last weekend of the legislative session, we burned the midnight oil to accomplish all that we set out to do for you. I wanted to let you know what things I have worked on. I have been part of 10 pieces of legislation that have either been signed into law by the Governor, or have been sent to his office and are awaiting his signature.
Here are the most recent highlights:
House Bills Authored by me:
• HB 1020. Relating to the certification of alcohol awareness programs required for minors convicted of or receiving deferred disposition for certain alcohol offenses. (Waiting for the Governor’s Signature)
• HB 1580. Related to the exclusion of certain short-term employment from unemployment compensation chargebacks and grounds for benefit disqualification. (Sent to the Governor)
• HB 1994. related to the purchase of certain commodity items by a state agency. (Signed by Governor on 5/24/13 – Effective immediately.
• HB 3659. Relating to the Houston Community College System district service area; specifically this legislation includes Willowridge High school into HCC’s service area for the first time in the school’s history. (Waiting for the Governor’s Signature)
House Bills Joint-Authored by me:
• HB 437. Relating to career and technical education and workforce development grant programs. (Waiting for the Governor’s Signature)
• HB 788. Relating to permitting of greenhouse gas emissions by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; limiting the amount of a fee. (Waiting for the Governor’s Signature)
• HB 842. Relating to the provision of certain opportunities for career and technical students by public school districts under the college credit program. ((Waiting for the Governor’s Signature)
House Bills Co-Authored by me:
• HB 4. Relating to the administration of the Texas Water Development Board and the funding of water projects by the board and other entities; authorizing the issuance of revenue bonds. (Waiting for the Governor’s Signature)
• HB 5. Relating to public school accountability, including assessment, and curriculum requirements; providing a criminal penalty. (Waiting for the Governor’s Signature)
• HB 920. Relating to the requirement that an unemployed individual be actively seeking work to be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits. (Waiting for the Governor’s Signature)
• HB 950. Relating to unlawful employment practices regarding discrimination in payment of compensation.
• HB 2662. Relating to a personal financial literacy credit for high school programs. (Waiting for the Governor’s Signature)
Senate Bills Sponsored by me:
• SB 1727. Relating to the use of the Texas emissions reduction plan fund. (Waiting for the Governor’s Signature)
• SB 920. Relating to the requirement that unemployed individual be actively seeking work to be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits.
As we end, I want to inform you of the most important issue to me this session. This was the agreement to reduce high-stakes tests and overhaul diploma plans for Texas public school students. We passed House Bill 5, under which the number of end-of-course exams required for graduation will fall from 15 to five: U.S. history, algebra, biology and ninth- and 10th-grade English. The English tests will cover reading and writing rather than assessing those subjects separately, as has been done for the previous two years. School districts will also have the option of giving their students end-of-course exams in advanced algebra and 11th grade English beginning in two years. The current graduation plan known as the 4×4 – four years each of math, science, social studies and English – will be replaced with more flexible options that require a foundation of only three years of math, science and social studies and four years of English. Students will have to choose an endorsement, such as Business and Industry or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, that will require an additional year of math and science but give them flexible options to meet those requirements The objective is to give students, particularly those not bound for college, more discretion to choose their course of study. To qualify for automatic college admission under the state’s top 10 percent provision, students will be required to adhere to the “distinguished” diploma plan, which is akin to the current 4×4.
Since public education is so dear to me and many that I represent, I feel these changes will go far in preparing Texas’ school children for the great future that awaits them.
State Representative District 27