Texas AFT: Legislative Update: Redistribution, Transgender Sports Act, TRS Health Funding

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Before Tuesday, when the third special session of the legislature must end, the GOP leadership is hoping to enforce bills that discriminate against transgender student athletes, allocate $ 16 billion to federal stimulus funds and rebuild the House, Senate, Congress and state to distribute cards of the education committee. Governor Greg Abbott also added a new item to the agenda for the special session that would ban all vaccine mandates in the state, including those introduced by private employers.

Transgender Sports Bill passed by House
After hours of passionate testimony from parents and educators who gathered against HB 25, the law preventing transgender students from competing in sports teams based on their gender identity was passed second reading House 76-54 and is now going ahead go to the Senate. This harmful law would force teachers to enforce state-mandated discrimination and deny students their Title IX rights.

Prior to the House vote, Texas AFT urged educators to take a stand against bullying students based on their gender identity – including a plea from one of our teaching staff about how violent this legislation has already become for some of our students. His letter begins with: “Mr. Wright, why does my own state hate me? ”

The redistribution continues on the path of unfairly drawing cards that take power away from people of color
On Tuesday, after 16 hours of debate and consideration of more than 50 amendments, the House of Representatives approved a redrawn map for its own 150 wards. Much of the debate has centered on the division of the state’s urban areas, but changes have also been made in the counties in the Rio Grande Valley and central Texas. Although only 5% of the state’s population growth has come from whites over the past 10 years, the number of counties where whites make up the majority of the population rose from 83 to 89 counties. White people make up about 40% of the state’s population, but make up the majority population in nearly 60% of the state’s house districts on the new map. The card was approved by the House of Representatives by 83-63 votes and is being sent to the Senate.

This week the House Redistricting Committee approved new cards for the State Board of Education, State Senate, and US Congress districts. Many people who turned up at the Capitol to testify against these cards said they diluted the voices of colored people. The House of Representatives is due to debate the Senate and State Board of Education cards today. (For more information on SBOE redistribution, see below.)

Today the House of Representatives is also due to discuss SB 8, the Senate’s plan to distribute $ 16 billion in U.S. coronavirus aid dollars. In the Senate-approved version, over $ 286 million was allocated to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), but the House Budgets Committee removed those funds from the bill and instead included them in HB 160, which is still being considered today. That money would go to TRS-Care and TRS-ActiveCare, the nationwide insurance plans for active and retired teachers, with the legal intent that the premiums for TRS-Care and TRS-ActiveCare insurance would not be paid due to coronavirus-related damage increase that were created before 09/01/2021.

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