Issues We Are Following

An integral part of Houston Center for Literacy's advocacy effort is to track legislative and agency actions affecting our work.

The 83rd Regular Legislative Session came to a close on May 27, 2013. Below is an update on the issues Houston Center for Literacy was tracking.

To jump to a specific issue, click on a link below, otherwise, scroll down the page to see all of the issues HCL is currently tracking.

Texas Workforce Commission 2013 Adult Basic Education Public Stakeholder Meetings

The Texas Workforce Commission will be holding public stakeholder meetings across Texas to discuss the transfer of adult education from TEA to TWC. HCL encourages advocates across the state to attend these meetings in order to ensure your voice is heard. Click here for the agenda and list of meetings. Those attending TWC's meetings may use HCL's advocacy handout.


Transfer of Adult Education from the Texas Education Agency to the Texas Workforce Commission

Background: In 2012, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission reviewed the functions of the Texas Education Agency (TEA), which houses adult education programming for the state. The Commission conducted an extensive review of TEA's role in adult education and, under "Issue 2" of the report, found the program was misplaced under TEA and would be better served by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). As a result, Houston Center for Literacy (HCL) convened meetings with literacy coalitions and providers from across the state to discuss the issue. The idea of change was met with positive response.

Due to the consensus that change was needed for the way Texas addresses adult education and literacy, HCL supported the move to TWC. Specifically, HCL actively supported SB 307 by Senator Joan Huffman (Houston) and HB 362 by Representative Ryan Guillen (Rio Grande Valley).   

SB 307 by Senator Joan Huffman (Houston) relating to the transfer of adult education and literacy programs from the Texas Education Agency to the Texas Workforce Commission. Read the text of SB 307 here.

UPDATE (02/05/13): Referred to the Senate Economic Development Committee.

UPDATE (03/25/13): Passed out of Senate Economic Development Committee (6-0-1).

UPDATE (04/08/13): Passed the Texas Senate, no amendments (31-0).

UPDATE (04/10/13): Referred to the House Economic Development and Small Business Committee.

UPDATE (04/17/13): Passed out of the House Economic Development and Small Business Committee (8-0-1).

UPDATE (04/19/13): SB 307 replaced HB 362 on the House floor. Passed to 3rd Reading.

UPDATE (4/22/13): Amended to include language about family literacy. Passed the Texas House (146-0-1).

UPDATE (5/07/13): House amendment on family literacy passed the Texas Senate (29-0-1).

UPDATE (5/08/13): The Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor sign the bill. SB 307 was sent to Governor Rick Perry. 

UPDATE (5/18/13): Governor Rick Perry signed SB 307 into law. The bill will take effect on September 1, 2013. 


HB 362 by Representative Ryan Guillen (Rio Grande City) relating to the transfer of adult education and literacy programs from the Texas Education Agency to the Texas Workforce Commission.  Read the text of HB 362 here.

UPDATE (02/11/13): Referred to House Economic & Small Business Development.

UPDATE (03/21/13): Passed out of House Economic & Small Business Development (7-0-2).

UPDATE (04/19/13): SB 307 replaced HB 362 on the House floor.


Sunset Advisory Commission Report and Bills on the Texas Education Agency

In 2012-2013, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) underwent Sunset Review by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. One of the issues addressed by the Sunset Advisory Commission was TEA's ability to effectively and efficiently administer adult education services. Upon an extensive review, the Commission recommended adult education be transferred from TEA to the Texas Workforce Commission.

Representative Dutton (Houston) filed the House sunset bill for TEA, HB 2983, and Senators Patrick (Houston) and Nichols (Jacksonville) filed the senate version, SB 218. Both bills were not taken up for a vote during the 83rd Legislative Session. 


Other bills filed during the 83rd Regular Legislative Session

HB 119 by Representative Lyle Larson (San Antonio) relating to citizenship information reported by persons who receive local or state money to provide services to individuals in this state. (Left pending in committee.)

HB 172 by Representative Robert Alonzo (Dallas) relating to a program to provide financial incentives to students who agree to teach bilingual education, English as a second language, or Spanish in certain public schools. (Left pending in committee.)

HB 763 by Representative Ryan Guillen (Rio Grande City) relating to the requirements for allocation of state and federal funds for adult education programs. (Left pending in committee.)

HB 945 by Rep. Debbie Riddle relating to abolishing certain county boards of education, boards of county school trustees, and offices of county school superintendent. (Left pending in committee.)


Legislative Budget Board Effectiveness and Efficiency Report

The Texas Legislative Budget Board (LBB) reviewed the effectiveness and efficiency of adult education services in Texas. In its January 2013 report, the LBB found that the Texas Education Agency's (TEA) long-range statewide plan for adult basic education was out-of-date and lacked guidance on coordination between agencies and programs. The LBB recommended that a rider be included with the General Appropriation Act (GAA) that would require TEA to develop a comprehensive state-wide strategic plan to address gaps in the system and target specific goals.

Read the LBB's recommendations for adult basic education here.


Texas Interagency Literacy Council Recommendations

In 2009, the Texas Legislature created the Interagency Literacy Council to identify barriers facing literacy providers and recommend solutions to those barriers. Headed by the executive director of the Texas Workforce Commission, the Interagency Literacy Council released its November 2012 Report to the Texas Legislature, Governor Rick Perry, and the Texas Workforce Investment Council.

Houston Center for Literacy attended town hall meetings conducted by the Council and submitted information to the report. As reflected in the report, HCL advocated for the adoption of a state-wide database for non-federally funded community-based organizations to use in order to better track student progress. HCL has created the Texas Online Learner Database (TOLD) for use of Houston-based organizations. HCL's comments were incorporated into the report and we plan to follow-up to ensure the TOLD is available to non-federally funded providers. 

Read the Texas Interagency Literacy Council Report here.