Triple overtime

In the afternoon today, both the House and the Senate gaveled in for 83(3), the Third Special Session. It will run for thirty days, until August 28th. The House quickly created a Select Committee on Transportation, consisting of seven members including Senfronia Thompson, then adjourned until next Monday, August 5th. The Senate, meanwhile, passed an identical measure, SJR1, in the Finance Committee 10-1. The lone dissenting vote was that of Dan Patrick, who still opposed the Conference Committee’s solution of replacing a hard-floor with a LBB recommendation. The Senate also finally passed the bill, then gaveled out.

Now, at this point, only Transportation funding is on the call of the session. But we all know that a single-issue Special Session can fall apart within a couple of days. Among the issues some want Perry to add to 83(3)’s call are TRBs for Campus Construction, as well as “Guns on Campus.”

First, the Texas Tribune reports that members of both houses of the Legislature, from both parties, are pushing for tuition revenue bonds for campus –specifically the campus of UT-Austin– construction. Among those in favor of such a measure are Rep. Donna Howard (D-Travis County), Sen. Judith Zaffrini (D-Bexar County), Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Potter County), Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Travis County) and Rep, John Raney (R-Brazos County). Among those opposed to such action are the usually cupcake cadets, lead by Van Taylor.

Since it is a new session, the exact nature of the bill of this issue will most likely differ from previous versions. That being said, the measure is somewhat common sense, backed by at least 69 members of the House. In the past, Perry has been open about this issue, telling the Tribune, “Once we get the transportation issue addressed and finalized, then we can have a conversation about whether or not there are any other issues that we have the time and inclination to put on the call.”

Next, the Houston Chronicle reports that Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Hood County) is leading the charge to get Governor Perry to add “Guns on Campus,” already known as “Campus Carry” to the call. As loyal readers will recall, I was jumping for joy when this horrible bill died during the regular session. And the Editorial Board member who attends the University of Texas was really, really happy.

Like Perry said, these issues are things that will be dealt with at the conclusion of the transportation issue. I’m still trying to figure out the roll call on SJR1 in the Senate. The true test will now be in the House, which now stands idle until Monday.

Even less standardized testing

Huzzah! The Texas Tribune reports that HB866, a bill by Dan Huberty to allow many students to skip standardized testing in the fourth, sixth and seventh grades, has been approved by the States Senate 29-2 after passing the House unanimously late last month. The two nays came from Dan Patrick (R-Harris) and Brian Birdwell (R-Hood). Birdwell is so right-wing he is probably upset that all the tests hadn’t been abolished, and Patrick probably couldn’t stand the idea of anyone else spearheading something pertaining to education.

The Tribune article reports that this new program, which would only allow the test waivers if the students did “well” on their 3rd and 5th grade tests, respectively, would require an exemption from the Federal Government. Another bill, HB2836, which I talked aboutlast month after it passed the House, originally would have axed writing tests for 4th and 7th graders. The Senate butchered that bill last night, so that the “new” version would only create a commission to “look into the matter.”

As a general rule, standardized tests for Elementary education is quite the asinine proposition. Organizations like the Texas Association of Business are deadset against reducing these tests, arguing that it is a good way to measure how well a student is doing. I still think that Grades are all that are needed to “measure how well a student is doing” until at least the start of High School. Let us hope the Obama administration agrees and grants Texas waivers from the (ludicrously named) No Child Left Behind Act that would allow the reduction of these high stakes tests.