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Analysis: Texas House of Representatives Interim Charges

March 11, 2022
Analysis: Texas House of Representatives Interim Charges
March 11, 2022
 
Interim Charges: What they are and why they matter
Speaker Dade Phelan announced interim charges for committees of the Texas House of Representatives (the House) to study. Committees will host hearings with invited speakers and public testimony to learn about progress and challenges related to the interim charges. No bills will be filed or considered during this interim period; however, many ideas for future legislation will surface throughout this process.  

Committee chairs and their staff will coordinate these interim hearings on behalf of their committee. Most hearings will be public or viewable online as meetings are scheduled.

Traditionally, committees meet several times throughout the interim to study each interim charge, with hearings culminating in a report from the committee outlining findings and policy recommendations. Committee chairs have the discretion to choose which interim charges to study and to determine the order in which they prioritize interim charges.

Interim Charges: Our opportunity
Our mission is to empower Texas philanthropy to engage in effective public and higher education policy and advocacy.  We fulfill our mission, in part, by informing our members about current interim charges and ensure awareness of how interim charges provide a preview of what to expect in the upcoming 2023 legislative session.

Together we will ensure Texas policymakers have access to reliable information from Texas funders that address many of the House interim charges outlined by Speaker Phelan. Below, we provide an overview of key interim charges related to Philanthropy Advocates priorities. We will monitor interim hearings and provide ongoing updates to Philanthropy Advocates members with key takeaways and opportunities for funders to engage with policymakers and/or their peers on issues related to interim charges and the upcoming 2023 legislative session.

Contact us (bcalahan@cftexas.org) if you have questions about this information or want to work together to ensure Texas policymakers have relevant, reliable information as they study the 2022 House interim charges.
 
Overview of Interim Charges Related to Philanthropy Advocates Priorities
The information below is organized by Philanthropy Advocates priority focus areas. We include the committee that will take up each charge and the page number within the complete list of interim charges should you wish to view interim charges by committee. The full list of interim charges is available here.
We have also included interim charges that do not directly fall within the purview of Philanthropy Advocates priority areas, but that may impact our key focus areas or that we expect to be discussed often in the 2023 legislative session.
 
EARLY CHILDHOOD – K-12 EDUCATION
House Committee on International Relations & Economic Development (pg. 18)
1. Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure the intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:
  • HB 619, relating to developing a strategic plan to support the child-care workforce;
  • HB 1792, relating to the evaluation of child-care providers participating in the Texas Rising Star Program;
  • HB 2607, relating to the powers and duties of the Texas Workforce Commission and local workforce development boards regarding the provision of childcare and the subsidized childcare program;
  • SB 1555, relating to establishing reimbursement rates for certain child-care providers participating in the subsidized childcare program
(See Early Childhood Education for the complete interim charge and analysis.)

Philanthropy Advocates Context: We have commissioned research through our Early Grade Success Policy Work Group to examine early childhood aspects of the HB 3 school finance reform bill passed in 2019. One component of this research includes examining public-private partnerships between child-care providers and school districts, particularly in providing pre-k programs.

House Committee on Pensions, Investments and Financial Services (pg. 24)
2. Review and evaluate the actuarial soundness of the Employees Retirement System (ERS) and Teacher Retirement System (TRS) pension funds.

Philanthropy Advocates Context: As advocates for ensuring every student has access to high-quality educators, we value supporting teachers and recognize the importance of teacher compensation, including retirement benefits, in our efforts to recruit and retain high-quality educators.
 
House Committee on Public Education (pgs. 25-26)
4. Examine partnerships between K-12, higher education institutions, and employers that promote postsecondary and career readiness and identify current obstacles that public schools, higher education institutions, and employers face. Make recommendations to ensure career and technical education programs, internships, apprenticeships, and other opportunities are more accessible.

Philanthropy Advocates Context: We have commissioned research through our Pathways to College & Career Policy Work Group to examine current college readiness definitions across state law and state agency rulemaking, as well as trends in student postsecondary and workforce transitions by high school student endorsement pathway.
 
5. Evaluate the impact of the pandemic on the state’s teacher workforce, and current practices to improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality educators. Explore the impact of the educator preparation program regulatory environment. Make recommendations to improve educator recruitment, retention, and preparation throughout the state. (Joint charge with Committee on Higher Education)

Philanthropy Advocates Context: We have commissioned research through our Effective Teaching Policy Work Group to examine trends in hiring educators who are not certified teachers. We aim to add further information to discussions around recruitment/retention of high-quality educators by understanding where school districts might be facing challenges in hiring or retaining certified teachers.
 
6. Study the effects of COVID-19 on K-12 learning loss and best practices that exist to address learning loss. Monitor the implementation of state and local plans to address students' achievement gaps. Make recommendations for supporting the state and local efforts to increase academic development.

Philanthropy Advocates Context: Texas philanthropy has been investing in and working alongside state and private partnerships to accelerate learning recover to achieve our vision of all Texas students can achieving their educational goals from cradle to career. This interim charge promises to emphasize innovative and effective strategies to address learning loss and underscore ongoing challenges to be addressed both through programmatic and policy actions.
 
HIGHER EDUCATION
House Committee on Higher Education (pg. 13)
1. Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure the intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:
  • SB 1102, relating to the establishment of the Texas Reskilling and Upskilling through Education (TRUE) Program to support workforce education; and
  • SB 1295, relating to financial support and incentives for comprehensive regional universities.
Philanthropy Advocates Context: These two bills created policies to ensure higher education is responsive to student needs and regional workforce alignment. SB 1102 established a competitive grant program to support eligible colleges in creating, redesigning, or expanding workforce training programs that lead to industry certification or other workforce credentials. SB 1295 made comprehensive regional universities eligible for additional grant funds through performance-based incentives.

Many Philanthropy Advocates members are working to support implementation of these bills through public-private funding partnerships across the state.
 
2. Review progress toward the goals of the 60x30TX plan, including institutional strategies for responding to changing workforce needs and demands, including workforce education, industry certification, and degree programs to address healthcare shortages.

Philanthropy Advocates Context: 60x30TX has been renewed and renamed to Building a Talent Strong TX, as adopted by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in January 2022.

We have commissioned research through our Pathways to College & Career Policy Work Group to examine trends in student postsecondary and workforce transitions by high school student endorsement pathway. Findings from this research should inform policy opportunities to achieve the goals of Building a Talent Strong TX.
 
3. Examine factors that have contributed to the rising costs of higher education, including the effect of statutory tuition and fee waivers and exemptions, the cost of compliance with state and federal mandates, and the increase in the number of non-faculty staff. Make recommendations for controlling these costs and ensuring a sound fiscal approach to managing college affordability for the future.

Philanthropy Advocates Context: We will monitor this conversation as we work with our members and policymakers to ensure Texas students have access to and can complete postsecondary credentials.
 
4. Evaluate the impact of the pandemic on the state’s teacher workforce and current practices to improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality educators. Explore the impact of the educator preparation program regulatory environment. Make recommendations to improve educator recruitment, retention, and preparation throughout the state. (Joint Charge with Committee on Public Education)

Philanthropy Advocates Context: We have commissioned research through our Effective Teaching Policy Work Group to examine trends in hiring educators who are not certified teachers. We aim to add further information to discussions around recruitment/retention of high-quality educators by understanding where school districts might be facing challenges in hiring or retaining certified teachers.
 
 
WORKFORCE
House Committee on Business & Industry (pg. 4)
3. Study the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on unemployment trends, hurdles to workforce reentry, and industry-specific disruptions

Philanthropy Advocates Context: We will monitor this conversation as we work with our members and policymakers to prepare Texas students to enter the workforce.
 
House Committee on International Relations & Economic Development (pg. 18)
1. Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure the intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:
  • HB 3767, relating to measures to support the alignment of education and workforce development with state workforce needs, including the establishment of the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative; and
(See Early Childhood Education for the complete interim charge and analysis.)

Philanthropy Advocates Context: The Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative is an important collaborative effort of the three state agencies, Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Workforce Commission, most closely working on issues that Philanthropy Advocates prioritizes.

The Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative posted goals for a public comment period that ended on March 2, 2022.  
 
Philanthropy Advocates Context: We will monitor the following three interim charges as we work with our members and policymakers to prepare Texas students to enter into the workforce and to further understand challenges students face in choosing to pursue postsecondary credentials now or foregoing higher education for immediate entry into the workforce.

3. Monitor the state’s economic recovery and identify obstacles impeding the state’s economic recovery. Examine the economic impact of inflation on both employers and employees. Examine global supply chain disruptions on state commerce and the flow of trade at Texas ports. Explore opportunities to attract businesses to Texas that have outsourced elements of their supply chain to foreign countries.

4. Examine current economic development incentive programs and identify opportunities to enhance job creation in Texas. Make recommendations to promote transparency and enhance effectiveness of such programs.

6. Evaluate labor shortages and Texas’ unemployment numbers. Identify initiatives within the Texas Workforce Commission to expand job training and apprenticeship opportunities to help meet labor demands. Identify opportunities to increase outreach and information regarding career development.


EDUCATION FINANCE
Philanthropy Advocates Context: As Philanthropy Advocates members know, money matters in education. When the state funds education, philanthropy is able to target private dollars towards research, innovation and immediate needs. When the state cuts funding to education, philanthropy is asked to step in to fill the holes left by the state.

The following interim charges in the House Committee on Appropriations and the House Committee on Public Education address the use of state and federal dollars and associated policies directing the use of these dollars. As policymakers review implementation of the current budget, we will monitor these conversations to understand potential priorities in the next legislative session and ensure Texas philanthropy is aware of the potential opportunities to make state dollars go further and/or impacts state cuts would have on private philanthropic grantmaking.

Likewise, we will monitor interim discussions about the use of federal funds to address challenges Texas education has grappled with since the onset of COVID-19. Philanthropy Advocates members have been addressing these same challenges through private dollars. We know the discussion will be important to understanding key leverage points and opportunities for state policy to further support Texas public and higher education.  
 
House Committee on Appropriations (pgs. 2-3)
1. Monitor and oversee the implementation of appropriations bills and other relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature, including the following:
  • SB 1 (87R), General Appropriations Act;
  • HB 5 (87S2) and SB 8 (87S3), relating to making supplemental appropriations and giving direction regarding appropriations; and
  • CSB 52 (87S3), relating to the issuance of revenue bonds to fund capital projects at public institutions of higher education
6. Review the utilization by the Texas Education Agency and local school districts of federal dollars appropriated from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds made available by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (Public Law No. 116-260) and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law. 117-2) to address students’ instructional loss and mental health challenges.
 
House Committee on Public Education (pgs. 25-26)
1. Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure the intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:
  • HB 1525 and HB 3 (86R), relating to public school finance and public education;
  • HB 4545, relating to assessment of public school students and providing accelerated instruction;
House Committee on Ways & Means (pgs. 31)
2. Study and consider methods of providing additional property tax relief, including the use of $3 billion in available American Rescue Plan Act funds that were held for future tax relief by the 87th Legislature, and other sources of revenue. Explore options to reduce business property tax burdens and options for limiting the growth of property tax bills.

Philanthropy Advocates Context: Texas public education largely relies on local and state property tax collection to fund schools. We will monitor conversations about property taxes and state revenue sources to be aware of implications on state education funding.
 

OTHER
The following interim charges address issues that Philanthropy Advocates does not directly focus on through our policy work group model. However, the issues outlined below have been identified as priority conversations by Philanthropy Advocates members, and/or are issues that traditionally or currently garner a lot of discussion and questions up to and through legislative sessions.
 
House Committee on State Affairs (pg. 28)
1. Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure the intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:
  • HB 5, relating to the expansion of broadband services to rural areas;
  • HB 1505, relating to attachments for broadband service on utility poles owned by an electric cooperative and establishing and funding a pole replacement program for deployment of certain broadband facilities;
Philanthropy Advocates Context: Philanthropy Advocates prioritized broadband infrastructure in the 2021 legislative session. We will monitor these discussions to ensure our members are aware of opportunities to partner in implementation of these bills.
 
House Committee on Public Education (pgs. 25-26)
1. Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure the intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:
  • SB 1365, relating to public school organization, accountability, and fiscal management;
  • SB 1716, relating to supplemental special education services and instructional materials for certain public school students; and
  • HB 3906 (86R), relating to the assessment of public school students, including the development and administration of assessment instruments, and technology permitted for use by students.
Additional Context: Texas has been found to inadequately serve students who need special education services and is currently studying special education funding.
 
3. Identify and examine efforts to ensure that parents have a meaningful role in their children’s education. Recommend necessary changes in both independent school district board and open enrollment charter governing board governance to protect the right of parents to participate in their child’s education.

Additional Context: In January 2022, Governor Abbott released a parents “Bill of Rights”. This interim charge is likely related to the bill of rights announced by the Governor.
 
7. Examine the impact of COVID-19 on students' mental health, including the availability and workload of mental health professionals across the state and their role in the public school system. Make recommendations to reduce or eliminate existing barriers to providing mental health services in a traditional classroom setting or through teletherapy.
 
8. Study the unfulfilled recommendations from the 2016 Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability. Evaluate the state’s progress on assessments and accountability and consider possible legislation to support the recommendations from the report. Study and recommend measures needed at the state level to prevent unintended 26 consequences to students, campuses, and districts, including changes that could improve the system for students or help public schools serving a disproportionate number of educationally disadvantaged students impacted by the pandemic.
 
9. Monitor and analyze the state policy on curriculum and instructional materials used in public schools.
 
10. Examine the causes and contributors for chronic absenteeism in public schools and its impact on student outcomes. Consider techniques and approaches that have been utilized by public schools to identify students who are chronically absent and return these students to classrooms.
 

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