87th LegislatureEducationIssuesState HouseThe Back Mic: House Committee to Consider Potential Harassment Complaint, Lawmakers Request STAAR Test Cancelation, Influx of Pre-Filed Bills

This week — a workplace complaint prompts investigative committee meeting, legislators call for cancelation of STAAR testing, and the first week of pre-filing sees sharp uptick in submissions compared to past sessions.
November 20, 2020
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Workplace Conduct Complaint Prompts General Investigating Committee Meeting

Public notice was issued this week for a House committee meeting concerning a complaint under House Rule 15 and Housekeeping Resolution Article 9, which govern workplace conduct.

Set for November 23, the House Committee on General Investigating will convene at 10:00 a.m. in Dallas to consider possible action on the complaint.

The notice further states the body may move to executive session on the matter, likely to preserve privacy rights of those involved.

Rule 15 finds “harassment based on an individual’s characteristics and activity protected by law is inconsistent with the necessary safe and professional environment,” and declares it against House policy.

Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas) chairs the committee and will oversee the meeting.

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Legislators Call for Cancelation of STAAR Testing for 2020-2021 School Year

Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) submitted a bipartisan letter to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) requesting the state cancel the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) testing requirement for this school year.

“At most, any administration of the STAAR during the 2020-2021 school year should only serve as a diagnostic instrument to see where our students stand academically as opposed to an assessment instrument to determine district and campus sanctions under the current A-F accountability system,” it reads.

Bernal’s letter has 67 other member’s signatures.

Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) submitted his own letter requesting the same thing, as did Rep. James White (R-Hillister).

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath opposes the outright cancelation, but indicated his openness to removing its accountability aspect for this year.

Legislation Pre-Filing Higher Than Previous Sessions

The Legislative Reference Library of Texas released statistics comparing the first week of bill pre-filing of the 87th Legislative Session to the previous four sessions. In total, 745 bills or resolutions were filed last week.

The 2017 session was next highest with 628 bills pre-filed and the 2013 session had the fewest with only 309 bills filed in the first week.

In 2020, House members accounted for 77 percent of the filings, substantially more than any of the previous four sessions.

The Senate, meanwhile, filed fewer bills in the first week of pre-filing than each of the previous four sessions except for 2013’s low of 106.

Graphic from the Texas Legislative Reference Library

There is no limit on the number of bills any given member of the legislature can file. Each piece of legislation can be viewed here.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.