To: Open Letter to Sen. Dan Patrick
From: Donna Garner
Re: A Plea for the Special Session
Senator Patrick, thank you very much for letting us grassroots citizens know what happened yesterday in the Texas Legislature (posted below). However, I see on your list of requested issues sent to Gov. Perry for the Special Session that you do not have the (1) the confirmation of Gail Lowe as the chair of the SBOE nor (2) the Texas State Board of Education redistricting map.
Let me be perfectly honest. While you legislators are down there dealing with so many financial issues, the most important issue that we have in Texas is to keep our public schools moving toward education reform.
Those 4.7 million children are the workforce and the strength of Texas in the future. It is those 4.7 million ill-educated children who cost our state a fortune because we spend millions of dollars for at-risk programs, remedial reading programs, juvenile detention, prisons, remedial college programs, drug rehabilitation, single-parent families, welfare, bilingual education, English proficiency classes, unemployment, loss of high-tech jobs because of an untrained workforce, and on and on. The root of all of these is generation-upon-generation of poorly educated Texans.
In Texas, the academic achievement of our public school students is based upon one thing: the curriculum requirements (TEKS). This means day-to-day instruction in the classrooms, textbooks, instructional materials, tests, teacher training in higher education institutions, in-service training, teacher evaluations — all are based upon the TEKS.
It is the Texas State Board of Education led by the conservatives who have dared to change the direction of our public schools by adopting new TEKS that will teach students to read/write/speak in English, compute, learn scientific concepts, develop proficiency in secondary languages, and become proud Americans because they have studied those historical documents and people of the world upon which our nation is built.
To destroy the direction in which our SBOE is leading our public schools at this point would be a terrible disservice to the children whose future lives are dependent upon becoming well-educated citizens.
Out of the 15 SBOE members, Gail Lowe is the best equipped to continue as the chair. She has the respect of members on both sides of the aisle because she has been an effective leader as the chair, and she has been a key person who has helped to move the new TEKS documents through the entire process. The Math TEKS are in the pipeline now, and to cause upheaval in the chairship at this important time would hamper the adoption process. Nothing must constrain the timeline of these new core standards as they are slowly but surely being implemented across our state.
The SBOE redistricting map is a mess. It deliberately does everything in its power to make it hard-to-impossible for conservatives to be re-elected or elected to the Board. Those who drew it up (E120) have no record of past success with the courts; however, the person who drew up the preferred SBOE redistricting map (E118) is the man who drew up the SBOE map in 2000 which made it through all court challenges. Because of those who controlled the chairships in the Senate and the House, E118 was never allowed to be debated on the floor of either chamber.
Surely you and other Legislators do not want the 82nd Legislative Session to go down in history as the one that destroyed the progress of our Texas public schools toward academic excellence.
From: Dan Patrick [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, May 30, 2011 1:32 AM
Subject: Democrats crash session with filibuster and slow down killing key bills likely forcing a special session costing taxpayers
IMPORTANT UPDATE FROM SENATOR PATRICK 1:30 a.m Monday May 30th
As the session wound down tonight at midnight the Democrats in both chambers killed bills that were vital to conservatives and to being able to pass a budget. In the Senate Democrat Wendy Davis filibustered HB 1811, the school finance bill that had to pass to certify the budget as it contained the formulas to send money to school districts. HB 1811 also contained other key elements including, extension of business tax cut for small businesses under 1 million in revenue that I passed last session and a requirement that a person must prove citizenship in order to get a drivers license. Texas is now only one of three states not to have this in law. If we do not pass it a person may not be able to get on an airplane without a passport because a drivers license will not prove citizenship.
Over in the House the Democrats slowed played everything until midnight killing SB 8 and SB 23 was cut nearly 3 billion from medicaid in savings. SB 8 also included the Healthcare Compact language. House Democrats also killed HB 6 which is the school instructional material bill.
Unless both chambers can suspend the rules tomorrow, the last day, we will be in special session to take up all of these bills. The disappointing event in the House last night was that the had the chance to suspend the rule to go past midnight to pass all of these bills. They needed two-thirds, 100 votes, to suspend. The vote was 94-53. With only 49 Democrats 4 Republicans obviously voted not to suspend for some reason and several had left the floor or the building. With 101 suspension should have been passed.
This entire episode underscores an argument I and others have been making in both chambers. We need to change the rules and the calendar so we don’t always come down to the last 10 days to take up key legislation. In the Senate the 21 vote rule must go and in the House the point of orders that can kill bills for a printing error and other minor issues, and the rule that let’s any member talk a bill to death must change. We spend 6 months of hard work, not to mention the work that went on in the interim lead up to session only to see it go to waste on rules that are outdated and a calendar that is outdated. (if we didn’t have the 21 vote rule in the Senate much of this legislation would’ve passed earlier so we didn’t have this time issue and if the House would take up bills before the first 60 days, now in their rules, they would get work done earlier.)
THERE IS SOME GOOD NEWS: In a special session we do not have to use the 21 vote rule in the Senate. I believe all Republicans will join me and others requesting we do not use the 21 vote rule. Therefore with 101 Rs in the House and no blocker bill in the Senate we should be able to pass everything that the Democrats blocked during session.
I am going to send a request to the Governor to put the following on the special session call in addition to the bills listed above that did not pass.
1. Sanctuary cities
2. Campus carry
3. 10th Amendment Resolution
4. Health Care Compacts
5. Congressional map
6.And yes the TSA anti groping bill.
We have the votes to pass it all. Time to get it done.