Governor signs school bills


State Capitol Highlights

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on June 6 signed three bills into law to improve school safety and expand access to mental health resources.

“After the horrific shooting (at Santa Fe High School on May 18, 2018) and the subsequent school safety roundtables, I made school safety an emergency item to help prevent a tragedy like this from happening again,” Abbott said. “Today, I am proud to sign legislation to make Texas schools safer for students and teachers. I thank members from both chambers, as well as the many stakeholders, who worked tirelessly to get these bills through the Legislature and to my desk today.”

•Senate Bill 11, by Senate Education Chair Larry Taylor and sponsored by Rep. Greg Bonnen, both R-Friendswood, strengthens emergency preparedness and response protocols, improves school facilities standards, establishes better threat assessment protocols, and provides schools more funding for school safety efforts, Abbott said.

The bill also establishes the Texas Child Mental Health Consortium to leverage higher education expertise in the state to improve the mental health care systems for Texas children.

•House Bill 18 by House Calendars Committee Chair Walter “Four” Price IV, R-Amarillo, and sponsored by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, increases mental health training for educators and other school professionals to aid in early identification and intervention; emphasizes importance of mental health education for students; and improves access to mental and behavioral health services through school-based mental health centers and the hiring of mental health professionals.

•House Bill 1387 by Rep. Cole Hefner, R-Mount Pleasant, and sponsored by Senate Higher Education Chair Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, removes the cap on the number of school marshals that may be appointed per campus.

Hegar certifies budget

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on June 5 announced the certification of House Bill 1, the general appropriations act for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

HB 1, legislation appropriating $250.7 billion in total spending, was approved by both houses of the Legislature in late May. The next stop for the budget bill after Hegar’s certification is the governor’s desk for final approval. “I’m proud to certify this budget and send it on to Gov. Abbott for final approval,” Hegar said.

Hegar, who manages the state’s pocketbook, pledged to continue to monitor the Texas economy, noting that it has expanded at a rapid pace over the last 18 months.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth in Texas over the last year and a half, which allowed lawmakers to make historic investments in education and provide much-needed property tax relief,” Hegar said. “Uncertainty in the global economy, however, as well as increasing unpredictability surrounding international trade policy at the federal level, may have dampening effects on the Texas economy in the coming years.”