The Texas House of Representatives on Wednesday passed an education funding reform bill by an overwhelming majority.

House Bill 3 was approved by a vote of 148-1 and will be sent to the Texas Senate.

Local state representatives Greg Bonnen, of Friendswood, and Mayes Middleton, of Wallisville, both voted for the education bill. In all, the bill funnels $6.3 billion toward public education and $2.7 billion to property tax relief.

Among other things, the reform bill proposes changes to the way the state funds individual school districts. As currently written, the Galveston Independent School District would next year pay back $9 million less to the state under its recapture policies, which redistributes funding from districts that collect higher amounts of property taxes to other, poorer districts.

Under the house’s proposal, the Texas City and Friendswood school districts would stop paying into the so-called “Robin Hood” system entirely.

During an hours-long floor debate Wednesday, Bonnen successfully added an amendment to the bill that would create a annual allotment for school districts to pay for security upgrades and security staff.

Bonnen, whose district includes Santa Fe, has advocated for more ways to fund school safety measures since the May 18, 2018 mass shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 dead and 13 injured.

The bill also includes a $5,000 pay raise for Texas teachers.

Soon after it passed, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signaled his support for the bill.

“Texans are demanding meaningful reforms to our school finance system, and today’s passage of HB 3 in the House is a vital step toward that goal,” Abbott said.

VOTER REGISTRATION

Today is the last day to register to vote in May 4 local elections.

Voter registration applications must be in the mail or dropped off at a voter registrar’s office today.

Voters applications can be found and filled out on the Texas Secretary of State’s office at sos.state.tx.us or on the Galveston County website at galvestoncountytx.gov. They also can be picked up at voter registrars’ offices.

Voter registration drop boxes are outside voter registrar offices at 722 21st St., Galveston; 174 Calder Drive, League City; 2516 Texas Ave., Texas City; and 11730 state Highway 6, Santa Fe.

To vote in Texas, you must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of the county where you’re registering and be 18 by the time of the election.

Early voting begins on April 22

ABBOTT APPOINTS LOCALS

Over the past week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed two Friendswood residents to serve on state boards.

On Wednesday, Abbott named Carlos Vital, the president and CEO of Vital Allergy & Asthma Center, to the Texas Health Services Authority Board of Directors.

The health services authority was created to promote and facilitate “secure electronic exchange of health information” in Texas, according to the authority’s website.

On March 28, Abbott appointed Robin Armstrong, a physician and owner of Armstrong Medical Group, to the Finance Commission of Texas.

The finance commission is the governing body of the state banking, savings and loan and consumer credit agencies.

Both of the appointments are subject to the approval of the Texas Senate.

NOTEBOOK

State Rep. Mayes Middleton‘s bill proposing a ban on taxpayer-funded lobbyists in Austin passed out of the House of Representative’s State Affairs Committee last week. ... U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is scheduled to speak at a luncheon at Moody Gardens in Galveston on April 18. Tickets for the event hosted by the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce started at $50. ... Texas Sen. John Cornyn on Wednesday said that he had called President Donald Trump and told him that closing the U.S.-Mexico border would be a “terrible mistake.” Trump threatened to close the border in a tweet Friday. ... The Texas Senate is considering a bill that would allow cities to require scooter riders to wear helmets. ... There are 53 days remaining in the Texas Legislative Session.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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