87th LegislatureEducationHealthcareIssuesState HouseState SenateTaxes & SpendingTransgender Sports, Spending Limits, ‘Informed American Patriotism’ Education Among Bills Facing Midnight Deadline

Tuesday, May 25 is the last day for the Texas House to consider Senate bills and joint resolutions that have not yet passed the chamber.
and May 25, 2021
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As the end of the 87th Texas legislature approaches, the Texas House is set to consider a number of proposals on Tuesday, May 25, including the bill to require public school athletes to compete based on their biological sex and the proposal to require sexual harassment training in order to register as a lobbyist.

Notable pieces of legislation that originated in the Texas Senate may be headed for the dustbin unless the House passes them by the end of Tuesday, which is the last day for the lower chamber to act on Senate bills and joint resolutions that have not yet been passed.

The House is set to consider Senate Bill (SB) 2233, which would require sexual harassment training for individuals who are seeking lobbyist registration. SB 2233 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) passed the Texas Senate unanimously and was spurred in part by allegations that a lobbyist drugged and sexually assaulted a female capitol staffer — accusations that authorities later found to be false.

In a joint statement with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) said in April that they had conducted a “thorough investigation” before determining the complaints had no basis.

However, they lauded the Texas legislature’s attention to the issue and added, “Recent events have amplified the conversation in our community that women should have the right to feel safe at all times. We are committed to continuing this conversation [with] the firm belief that women should be safe at home, at the workplace, and anywhere else they choose to be.”

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The House will also take up SB 29, a controversial proposal to require public school athletes to participate in sports with their own biological gender. 

Though it seemed SB 29’s failure had become inevitable after it did not pass the House Public Education Committee, Chairman Harold Dutton Jr. (D-Houston) later brought it back before the committee as an act of retribution against his Democratic colleagues for scuttling a school accountability bill that he had coauthored.

Another bill hanging on the edge is SB 1336, a bill to place limits on the state’s spending.

The State of Texas has, before added federal funding, adopted a 2022-2023 budget that falls under the population times inflation line — a metric broadly used as a baseline measure of fiscal responsibility. SB 1336 would marry the legislature to that metric for future budgets except in the case of a three-fifths majority vote.

From biennium to biennium, Texas’ spending has increased steadily, and sometimes substantially so. This legislation would put a cap on that rate of growth but would not require spending cuts. The Legislative Budget Board set the state’s general spending cap at a seven percent increase back in December — right around the population times inflation metric — citing the need to keep spending low while the state struggled with depressed sales tax collections.

Other items on the agenda include SB 2050, a bill to require school districts to adopt policies to combat cyberbullying, and SB 2026, which would direct public school educators to provide teaching that is conducive to “informed American patriotism.” 

The legislation explicitly requires school districts to incorporate the U.S.’s founding documents into the curriculum, including the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, as well as notable works in American history such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, “I Have a Dream.”

The bill text proposes adding language to the Education Code that defines “informed American patriotism” as “a reasoned appreciation, gained through the study of historical primary sources, of why America has been, is now, and continues to be the destination of choice for those around the world who yearn to live in freedom.”

“Informed American patriotism is only a conditional pledge of devotion that will be maintained only so long as America adheres to a republican form of government.,” the text continues. “If we abandon a representative democracy, our pledge of allegiance will be withdrawn as is stated in the Pledge of Allegiance, which swears devotion to a ‘republic.’”

The House will also consider a bill that implements more legislative oversight during disasters.

Five of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s legislative priorities — including a bill to protect personal data from dissemination by state agencies, a charter schools bill, and a proposal that concerns the state online learning system — have not advanced far enough to be considered in the House and will be officially lost at 11:59 p.m.

The other two foreclosed priorities are the redistricting bill, which was stymied due to the delayed publication of the 2020 U.S. census, and an appellate court reorganization bill.

The Texas Constitution requires the House and Senate to adjourn “sine die” on the 140th day of the regular session, which this year falls on Memorial Day.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.