Legislative Update: Jan. 11, 2019

​​​T​his Edition

  • The First Day
  • New House Boss
  • Important Issues
  • Show Us the Money!
  • Finis ...
Blue sign that reads "Welcome to the Texas Capitol."

One of the most photographed signs on the first day: “Welcome to the Texas Capitol.”

The First Day

We’re back! It’s been such a long time since we’ve been together. Remember the good old days of discussing small business development centers, Recruit Texas, higher education funding, baccalaureate degrees and more? Seems like just yesterday we were walking the halls with donut holes and shaking as many hands as possible with the 2016 presidential candidates.

Well, it’s Facebook official — Texas’ 86th legislative session has begun.

As usual, the first day was filled with hope, optimism and happiness. (Ask us how this is going toward the end of May.) In the Senate, the upper chamber is led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and members nominate and elect a senator who will serve as president pro tempore. During this session, that honor goes to Senator Kirk Watson from Austin. In the House — in the most un-breaking news of the week — Rep. Dennis Bonnen was elected as the new House Speaker. Wait? What happened to Joe Straus? Well, Joe retired and approximately seven candidates sought to replace him. Then, on Nov. 12, Rep. Bonnen triumphantly said, "The speaker's race is over.” So, who is the new boss? Keep reading, my friends.

New House Boss

Rep. Dennis Bonnen was elected as the new Texas House Speaker on the first day of the 86th legislative session. Speaker Bonnen previously served as chair of the powerful Ways and Means committee and was an ally of former Speaker Straus. Bonnen is serving his 12th term — that’s more than 20 years in the House — and represents a portion of southeast Texas.

Learn more about Speaker Bonnen’s rise from Texas House staffer and D.C. intern to speaker. The Capitol Update crew also would like to share news articles about the speaker’s race and election. Warning: Some content may be found behind what techies call a paywall. OK, the disclosure has been made. Check out the Houston Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman and Texas Tribune.

Important Issues

When we visit with House and Senate members, Chancellor Joe May and DCCCD staff members have one primary goal: to advocate for our students and colleges on issues of importance. A few of those issues include:

  • Funding for community colleges​
  • Funding for Small Business Development Centers
  • A student’s right to transfer
  • Workforce development
  • Local control

Throughout the session, we will track the issues and bills that affect DCCCD as they make their way through the legislative process. We also will share more details about the issues listed above. As always, please feel free to contact our office with any questions.

What about the last session? What happened? I want to know more about all the bills, and I’m not ready to move on to the 86th?! OK, OK…here is some good late-night-can’t-sleep-help-me-I’m-bored reading material. Thank us later.

Show Us the Money!

Show us the money! The day before the first day of the session, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released the famous Biennial Revenue Estimate, or as the kids call it, the BRE. Essentially, the BRE informs members about how much money they have to play with – umm, we mean invest. Members will make decisions and prioritize what is important for Texas. We know the state has about 8% more money to spend than it did for the 2017 session. How will they use that extra $9 billion? If you were at the capitol this week, you would have heard many members repeatedly saying, “public school finance.”

Infographic of the biennial revenue estimate that shows state projects will have approximately $119 billion to spend during 2020-2021 biennium

For those of you who are keeping score at home, this means the state projects it will have approximately $119 billion to spend during the 2020-2021 biennium. Pay raise, please!

Finis ...

We made it to the end of the first Capitol Update. We want to thank you all for the wonderful comments about last session’s Capitol Update. We strive to be informative with a fun spin. If at any time you have a question about the legislative process or a bill, if you have an idea about adding something to the update, or if you are trying to reach a member, simply email or call us at the District Office, 214-378-1500, and ask for Governmental Affairs. Every legislative session is different, and we will do our best to pull the curtain back a bit and show you what is going on under the dome. Finally, we leave you with a couple of pictures today. Enjoy.

People were excited to join the fun and created long lines to enter the capitol.

A staple at the Capitol. Expect more people, more protests and more outfits during the 140-day session.

OK, the line was just as long at the west entrance. Want to skip the line? Concealed Carry license holders get to walk to the front of the line.