In classrooms across Texas, teachers and students are counting down the days until summer vacation. In an almost identical countdown here at the Capitol, legislators are marking the days left until the end of session. As I write this, we are at 18.
Five things that happened this week at your Texas Capitol are:
1) School testing relief
On Monday, as students around the state were taking the STAAR test, the Senate was debating the future of such exams. We voted unanimously in favor of HB 5 to cut the number of tests required to graduate from 15 to five.
I have consistently heard from an overwhelming number of parents, teachers and school administrators that believe our kids are being over-tested. My hope is that this bill will allow teachers more time to teach, and will allow students more time to learn.
Because the Senate version of the bill is slightly different than the version the House passed in March, there will likely be a conference committee to hash out the differences over the coming weeks.
2) Governor signs TxDOT safe passage bill
Governor Perry recently signed my TxDOT safe passage bill into law. You may remember me telling you about SB 510 earlier in the legislative session.
This bill requires motorists near stopped highway or construction vehicles- with lights activated- to either vacate the lane closest to the highway maintenance/construction vehicle or slow down. It is intended to create safer highways for both motorists and workers.
As a former Texas Depart-ment of Transportation (TxDOT) Commissioner, I believe that safety should be a top priority. These men and women are at risk every time they put on their orange vests and work on our roads.
Even one preventable death is too many. In my opinion, this legislation is past due and I am pleased to see it signed into law.