Legislative Lowdown-Mar. 8, 2019

Today is day 60 of the regular Texas session of the 86th Texas Legislature. 80 days to go. 

  • Day 60 is a milestone calendar date in the legislative session, marking the last day lawmakers may file bills and joint resolutions without running the gauntlet of getting special permission. This year's bill total has eclipsed that of 2017 and at this writing is threatening record territory. The green light is now flashing for the full House and Senate to consider any and all legislation, meaning floor debates on items that had not been deemed "emergencies" by Gov. Greg Abbott may now commence. 
  • The added good news in the Texas Senate's unanimous approval of a $5,000 across-the-board pay raise for teachers was the addition of school librarians to the bill. The Texas American Federation of Teachers supports the legislation, but wants to see other public-school employees covered by the raise. The Texas House unveiled a completely different approach to the related questions of teacher pay and school finance reform, emphasizing new resources to be applied by local school districts. Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro said that while the union studies the provisions of all realted bills, "We see this as a healthy down-payment on funding our future to the level that will truly support our students and educators." 
  • A coalition that includes the Texas AFL-CIO and Texas Alliance for Retired Americans rallied in freezing weather for expansion of medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Volunteers stretched a string of 1,000 paper dolls to symbolize the more than one million Texans who would acquire health coverage.