A major bill proposing a series of school safety measures inspired by the 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School passed the Texas House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The bill is now nearly all the way to be becoming a law, though it still needs to be approved again by the Texas Senate and to be signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Senate Bill 11 received a final 135-7 vote in the House on Wednesday. It had received a initial approval on Tuesday.
Among other things, the bill requires that substitute teachers receive training in responding to emergencies, such as a school shooting, and that schools have teams of staff members assigned to identifying students who might pose a threat to other students.
School districts would also need to approve and hold public meetings about school safety plans, or else face potential takeover by the Texas Education Agency.
The bill was originally filed by state Sen. Larry Taylor, who along with State Rep. Greg Bonnen, led a push for some school safety reforms this session. Both men represent Santa Fe, where 10 people were killed and even more injured at that city’s high school on May 18, 2018.
While the House’s vote on a Senate bill moves it closer to becoming law, there are obstacles before it’s finalized.
On Tuesday, House members added amendments to the Senate’s bill that required schools get parents’ permission before providing mental health services to people under the age of 18 and requiring that schools have health classes that include lessons on mental health and suicide prevention.
The House’s version of the bill also includes Bonnen’s proposal for a school safety allotment that provides school districts with funding specifically to pay for school safety improvements — something that Santa Fe school officials have said they need to maintain the millions of dollars in school safety improvements implemented after the shooting.
A fiscal analysis of the bill completed by the Legislative Budget Board states it would cost the state $530.6 million over the next two years, though the bill itself doesn’t make an appropriation, only the legal basis for one.
The version of the bill passed by the Senate, without the allotment, would cost the state $24 million.
ANOTHER MAYORAL CANDIDATE
Galveston’s 2020 mayoral race field has grown again, as a third person has filed to enter the race to replace Mayor Jim Yarbrough.
Raymond Guzman registered a campaign treasurer with the Galveston City Secretary’s Office last week, he told The Daily News.
Guzman previously ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2014, coming in fourth in a four-person race that ultimately saw Yarbrough elected to his first term in office. He received 66 total votes.
Former Galveston Mayor Roger “Bo” Quiroga and current Councilman Craig Brown also have already declared their candidacies for mayor. The election is not until May 2020, and candidates can’t officially place themselves on the ballot until January 2020.
Yarbrough is in his third term as mayor and cannot run for re-election.
State Rep. Mayes Middleton has spent a good part of the legislative session supporting a proposed state law banning local governments from hiring private lobbyists to work for them in Austin.
A version of that proposal passed the Senate weeks ago, and reached the floor of the House of Representatives on Monday.
Middleton, a freshman, presented the bill to his colleagues in the House. He did not receive a great deal of support. First, a group of Democratic and rural lawmakers unified to amend the bill to apply only to Texas’ largest counties.
When it came to a final vote, the bill was defeated 58-85. One longtime legislative reporter noted that legislators whistled, like the sound of a plane crash, as the bill was voted down.
The bill might not be a complete loss for the people and groups that support it, however. By getting a record vote on a talking-point issue — limiting lobbyists in Austin — conservative groups now have a list of legislators, including Republicans, that stood up against it. Don’t be surprised to see the issue come up in 2020 primary races.
A bill that would allow Texas restaurants to choose whether to allow dogs on outside patios was approved in the Texas House of Representatives last week, and has been sent to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law. ... There are just four days remaining in the Texas Legislative session. ... There are 16 days until local runoff elections in Dickinson and Santa Fe. Early voting begins Tuesday.