Governmental Affairs > Legislative Update > April 17, 2015 (Vol. 5, Number 10)

April 17, 2015 (Vol. 5, Number 10)

This Week in Austin...

Hectic, harried – the clock is ticking and six weeks remain as the 84th session of the Texas Legislature continues. The budget bill took center stage in the Senate this week, while a few technical missteps delayed debates on other controversial bills, including open carry. DCCCD representatives continue to work with legislators on priorities for the session – both the district's priorities and those key areas supported by the Texas Association of Community Colleges on behalf of all two-year institutions throughout the state.

Never a Dull Moment...

It's the budget. On Tuesday, the Senate passed a two-year, $211 billion budget that would grow spending by billions and also cut property and franchise taxes. The bill now goes to a conference committee, where members will reconcile it with the House version passed earlier in April. Community colleges are rallying for increased funding to meet the needs of our students, employers and communities. Under the current funding models, DCCCD would see a decrease in state funding. Tax relief is a goal for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and the Senate bill reflects that effort. The Texas Tribune provides details and analysis here: Texas Senate Approves $211 Billion Budget

It's the technicalities. Campus carry took a back seat to open carry, which drew more attention this week when the House bill had to be rescheduled because of a technical error in how witness testimony was recorded. The open carry legislation was sent back to the House homeland security and public safety committee, and House members are set to hear and vote on this bill today. For details, read: Open Carry Bill Derailed on Texas House Floor. A protest by some Texas Tech students in favor of campus carry kept that subject in the news. Read more: Texas Tech students rally for campus carry bill 

Higher Education Update...

On April 22, DCCCD's baccalaureate bill, HB 3836, is part of a public hearing scheduled by the House higher education committee. The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Helen Giddings of Dallas, with nine other legislators now signed on as co-sponsors. We appreciate their support.

In that same public hearing next Wednesday, many other higher education bills are on the list for opinion and input, including: tuition assistance for members of the Texas State Guard, open source instructional materials, the appointment of school marshals at some community colleges, several matters related to the Texas Success Initiative assessment, educational support services for foster students, and many more topics.

Colleges have been appealing to legislators for help with increasing expenses created by a law which grants free tuition to veterans and their dependents. Some house members are considering a few “tweaks” to previously-passed legislation. Here's more information: Universities Plead for Help With Hazlewood

As legislators debate bills that would repeal the Noriega bill and in-state tuition for undocumented students, the Texas Tribune released a report this week that examined the number of undocumented students enrolled under the Noriega bill and where they go to school. The reporters who did the research found that 24,670 undocumented students attend state colleges and universities in Texas under Noriega, representing 1.87 percent of the entire enrollment in higher education. The story noted that DCCCD has the largest number in the state – 3,691, or 8.7 percent of the district's total enrollment. Read more here: Interactive: Undocumented Students on In-State Tuition

Legislators also decided to tackle the debate over escalating college tuition by submitting one bill that essentially would freeze or cap tuition costs at current rates and minimize future increases at state colleges and universities. The proposal drew support from the Senate higher education committee, but whether both chambers would consider the idea remains to be seen. State Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston proposed the cap. The Dallas Morning News reported that legislators have heard from parents across the state who have voiced their concerns about college affordability. Another bill, proposed by Sen. Charles Schwertner of Georgetown, would cap tuition at current rates and tie any future increases to inflation. Read more here: Senators propose help for rising tuition costs

Bills, Bills, Tracking Bills...

Throughout the 84th session of the Texas Legislature, we will continue to have information on the DCCCD website where you can track bills of interest to the district.

Our list will be updated regularly. Categories include:

  • budget measures
  • local taxes/appraisal reform/revenue caps
  • baccalaureate degrees
  • handguns
  • transfer
  • undocumented student tuition
  • college readiness
  • dual credit/early college
  • boards
  • tuition and tuition exemptions
  • financial aid

Please contact us if you see a bill of interest or if you have any questions.

As the 84th session evolves, we will call upon many people in the DCCCD family to support our advocacy efforts.

Newsletter published by the Office of Public and Governmental Affairs, Dallas County Community College District. Please contact Justin Lonon for more information about DCCCD's legislative initiatives.