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Ronald Flory
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Texas Legislature votes against restrictions on lobbying by political districts

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Senate Bill 29, a bil relating to the use by a political subdivision of public money for lobbying and certain other activities, was voted against on May 20. The bill, if enacted, would have kept political subdivisions, such as school districts or appraisal districts, from being involved in organizations that lobby on tax related matters.

Before the bill was struck down in the House of Representatives, an amendment was added that would have allowed rural school districts to still be involved with tax related lobbying. However, even with the amendment, 21 counties statewide would have still been affected by the bill.

“Essentially, this bill would have taken away a very important voice in our democratic process and potentially violated our constitutional free speech rights,” said Elgin ISD Superintendent Jodi Duron. “Without these organizations, it would be impossible for school districts, school boards, superintendents, and other public-school educators to follow and weigh in on all legislation, participate in hearings, and monitor the legislative process while fulfilling our professional obligations.”

The bill was struck down by a vote where 85 members of congress voted against the bill while 58 voted in favor of it. This left two members of congress present but not voting and five absent from the house floor. Representative John Cyrier, the House representative for Bastrop County, was one of the 58 votes in favor of the bill and one of the 48 sponsors for the bill. Prior to the bill reaching the house floor, it was approved to be passed in the Senate where Senator Kirk Watson, the senator for Bastrop County, voted to not allow the bill to pass. Now that the 86th Legislature in Texas has come to a close, the bill is engrossed, meaning the house and the senate have not agreed upon a single version of the bill.

Texas House Bill 3, a bill relating to public school finance and public education, was also discussed during this year’s legislative session. The bill is sponsored by Rep. John Cyrier and was enrolled on May 27, meaning the bill is now awaiting needed signatures from state officials. If passed, the bill will essentially overhaul school finance in the state of Texas.

For more information on these bills visit the Texas legislature website at https://capitol.texas.gov.