20 March 2023

Capitol Update: Halfway through the 88th Legislative Session

We have officially reached the halfway point of the 88th Legislative Session. As bills are receiving public hearings and making their way through committees, the House will soon begin sending bills over to the Senate. Just this past week, I laid out my first bill before the House Insurance Committee. Having a public hearing on a bill is an important and critical step in the legislative process, as many bills that are filed never receive a hearing, and therefore die in the committee of jurisdiction. If you are interested in a particular bill or House committee, please log onto the House website at www.house.texas.gov to either research a piece of legislation or watch a live committee hearing. As always, I encourage everyone to stay engaged and involved in the legislative process by providing input on the issues that matter most to you.

With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol…

Capitol Update

This past week, the Speaker of the House revealed his complete list of priorities for the House to consider. One bill, HB 600, seeks to provide a much-needed cost-of-living adjustment for retired Texas educators while also maintaining the financial stability of the Teacher Retirement System pension fund. If passed, eligible retired educators would receive a one-time, upfront cost-of-living increase based on their years of retirement, with a $5,000 cash payment for the oldest retirees. In addition, retired teachers could begin receiving an annual cost-of-living adjustment of at least 1% starting in 2028. House Joint Resolution 2 was also filed, allowing voters to decide whether House Bill 600 should be adopted as state law.

Another priority bill, HB 11, seeks to improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention policies of Texas teachers. This bill restructures the minimum salary by increasing teacher pay and recognizes the various pathways related to the profession. It provides a guaranteed spot and free pre-kindergarten to the children of Texas teachers.  Additionally, it creates a new grant program to offset special education or bilingual credentialing costs and increases the mentor program allotment for first- or second-year teachers. HB 11 is one way that we can show our support for those who choose a career in the teaching field and make the profession more attractive to others.

Relating to border operations, HB 7 would establish the Legislative Border Safety Oversight Committee to offer recommendations on border safety policies and provide oversight over the Border Protection Unit. The 10-member oversight committee would include the Lieutenant Governor, Speaker, and four members from each chamber. This bill would also create Regional Border Protection Court Programs to handle border-related legal matters, ensuring that border operations receive necessary funding and legal support. Lastly, it would create new grant programs for higher education institutions and local governments in the border region and residents would be compensated for property damage related to border activities.

The mobile office is on the road again and we look forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: April 5 at the San Augustine County Courthouse from 9:00-11:00am; April 12 at the Polk County Commissioner’s Court Room in Livingston from 9:00-11:00am, or at the Tyler County Courthouse in Woodville from 1:30-3:30 pm, April 19 at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9:00-11:00am, or at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30-3:30pm;

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will post regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and share information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

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