TCA Capitol Report: March 3, 2023

We hope TCA members and your families are safe after some parts of our state experienced severe weather on Thursday. The weather has not slowed down what is an increasingly busy pace at the Texas Legislature, which is seven weeks through this year’s session, with 13 weeks left to go.


Key Legislative Deadline Next Week
Next Friday (March 10) is the deadline for filing bills, which means there will be a last-minute rush by lawmakers and interest groups to get their ideas into the legislative hopper. Some expected major legislation has not yet been filed and is likely to come next week, such as education legislation related to campus safety and what key senators have called the “Parents Bill of Rights.” Once the bill filing deadline passes, the sprint to get bills moving will begin.

Differences emerged this week over one of the signature issues of this year’s legislative session: how to reduce property taxes. The Senate wants to lower property taxes by increasing the amount of a home that is exempt from school property taxes. The Senate plan would increase the exempt amount from $40,000 to $70,000. The House, meanwhile, wants to lower the cap on how much a home appraisal can increase each year — a way to fight rising appraisals that lead to higher property tax bills. What may be most notable is that both chambers want to spend a very significant amount of revenue — $15 billion or more — on lowering property taxes. Even with a $33 billion state surplus, such robust spending on property-tax relief makes it challenging to invest in other priorities such as health care and education.

Bills Referred to Committees
After a bill is filed, the next major step is for the presiding officer (Lt. Governor in the Senate, Speaker in the House) to refer it to a committee. Almost all bills are eventually referred to a committee, but the sooner it gets referred, the sooner the committee can act upon it. One way for legislative leaders to stall a bill is to wait some time to refer it to committee.

This week, House Bill 1157 by Rep. J.M. Lozano was referred to the House Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety. This bill is identical to Sen. Angela Paxton’s Senate Bill 1101, which would allow students to receive an excused absence from school if they were seeing a mental health professional. Current law allows for an excused absence when a student has an appointment with a “health care professional,” but current law does not explicitly include mental health professionals.

House Bill 1167 by Rep. Romero has been referred to the House Committee on Human Services and Senate Bill 47 by Sen. Zaffirini has been referred to the Senate Health & Human Services Committee. These identical bills would make it easier for well-qualified LPCs, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Social Workers from other states to move here and obtain a Texas license. If you need more information, please refer to our one-page summary of these bills.

House Bill 98 by Rep. Moody has been referred to the House Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety and Senate Bill 113 by Sen. Menendez has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. These proposals would allow districts to receive Medicaid reimbursement for mental health services for eligible students.

Ratio Bill Filed in House
Earlier this week, Rep. Janie Lopez filed House Bill 2937. It has not yet been referred to committee. It is the companion to Sen. Nathan Johnson’s Senate Bill 907, which would implement student-to-counselor ratio requirements and require each campus to have a certified school counselor. The legislation gives some latitude to the smallest districts in the state; for example, districts with fewer than 300 students would be allowed to use a part-time counselor at a campus. Districts would be grandfathered into the requirement depending on their size, with smaller districts having more time to meet the requirement.

As we have mentioned in previous weeks, a bill tends to have a better chance of making it through the process if it is filed in both the House and the Senate. To that point, TCA is monitoring several bills that have been filed related to the qualifications to be a school counselor, but so far none of them have Senate companions.

Advocacy Days Approaching
Our first Advocacy Day – March 14th – is just around the corner. Be sure to register and make an appointment with your State Senator and State Representative to meet in Austin. TCA Advocacy Days are fun! We feed you, prepare you and help you follow up to help move forward the TCA Public Policy Priorities for this session.

Be sure to contact Jan Friese at if you’ve connected with your State Representative or Senator. Please let Jan know what you discussed and how the legislator reacted. Also, please remember to follow and share our content on social media in order to amplify our advocacy efforts!