What to Expect During the 2023 Texas Legislative Session

January 13, 2023  

Every two years the Texas Legislature meets to pass new laws impacting our state, including public schools. The legislative session lasts only 140 days beginning on the second Tuesday of January, and the 88th Texas Legislative Session began this week on Tuesday, Jan. 10. 

What does this mean for you, and for public education? And what does a typical legislative session look like?

Texas Capitol chamber
The floor of the Texas House and Senate chambers will be very active throughout the 88th Legislative Session.

Over the coming months, the legislative process will be fast paced. The comptroller has already provided the Legislature with the Biennial Revenue Estimate, which is the estimate of revenue available for the next two-year state budget. Budget writers will have a historic amount available to them, over $32.7 billion. In the coming weeks, the speaker of the house and lieutenant governor will name committee chairs and members, and the real work of moving legislation through the process will begin.

If members want a good chance of having their legislation cross the finish line, they will only have the first 60 days to file a bill. Bill filing – for most bills – ends March 10. Committees will meet day and night sorting through the other nearly 7,000 house and senate bills filed every session. Typically 1,000 public education bills are filed every session with about 10% of those bills passing before the 140 days end.

2023 Quick Reference Legislative Session Timeline

  • Jan. 9: Biennial Revenue Estimate Day
  • Jan. 10: First day of session
  • Mid-January: Senate Committee appointments announced
  • Jan. 17: Gov. Abbott Inauguration
  • Late January to Early February: House Committee Chairs and Members announced
  • Early February: Gov. Abbott State of the State Address
  • March 10: Deadline to file bills, bills can now be presented and voted on
  • March-May: Committee meetings, floor debates, conference committees
  • May 29: Last day of session (Sine Die)

After the filing deadline, things ramp up and the energy in the Capitol changes. The various House and Senate committees begin holding meetings as thousands of bills are referred to them by leadership. These hearings will include hundreds upon hundreds of hours of testimony from state agencies, organizations, and the general public on issues related to the bills. 

By the time May arrives, most of the bills have made it through committees and to the opposite chamber, and those bills will live or die based on the daily calendars of those two chambers with predetermined deadlines. On May 29, any legislation not passed by both chambers is unable to become law. 

This 140-day legislative session is a tight calendar for achieving effective public policy. Knowing the tempo of the session and where legislation is in the process will help you understand what bills are likely to become law. 

For more details on how bills become laws you can read The Legislative Process in Texas from the Texas Legislative Council.

Building the Future of Texas Together

Raise Your Hand Texas spent the last year preparing for this session hoping to bring awareness to the issues impacting our teacher workforce, assessment and accountability, and school funding, while also opposing school vouchers of any kind. Our policy issues include: 

Teacher Workforce
In 2022, 77% of Texas teachers said they had seriously considered leaving the profession. Teachers have also indicated a lack of respect for the profession plays a role in their decision to stay or leave. It is time to elevate the profession of teaching and treat our Texas teachers  as the qualified experts in their field they are.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Support teacher retention through increased compensation and benefits packages, adequate administrative support, and sustainable work environments
  • Invest in teacher recruitment strategies, including scholarships for aspiring teachers
  • Strengthen teacher development by raising the standards for all education preparation programs and providing meaningful professional development opportunities

Assessment & Accountability
Texas places too much emphasis on standardized testing when it comes to assessing our students and holding our schools accountable for the job for which they are tasked. It is time to measure what matters when it comes to assessment and accountability by de-emphasizing the STAAR test and adding more factors that would more accurately reflect what our schools do on a day to day basis because our schools do more than administer tests.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Remove all high-stakes testing consequences for students
  • Limit STAAR test scores to 50% of any domain or the overall score for districts and schools in the state’s accountability ratings system
  • Expand the scope of Texas’ A-F accountability ratings system to include factors beyond STAAR test scores

School Funding
Texas ranks second in the nation in population and is the fastest growing population according to the latest Census data. But did you know Texas ranks in the bottom 10 in per-pupil spending? In fact, Texas is approximately $4,000 behind the national average. Funding has remained stagnant without an increase since 2019. Raise Your Hand Texas would like to see Texas fund its students at least at the national average, and one way to begin that positive movement is to create an inflationary adjustment to the state’s basic allotment for per-pupil funding.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Increase the state’s overall investment in our public school students and in public education programs
  • Create an automatic annual adjustment to the basic allotment – the building block for per-student funding – to address inflation and growing needs of our schools

Opposition to Vouchers
Public dollars should remain in public schools. School voucher programs take taxpayer money out of public schools and into the hands of private schools or vendors with no accountability for their spending. Voucher programs also have a long history of expanding well beyond their intended scope, resulting in much larger state costs than originally planned or approved.

Policy Recommendations: 

  • Support school choice and innovation within the Texas public school system
  • Oppose any form of vouchers that use taxpayer dollars to subsidize private schools and vendors

To learn more about all our policy recommendations this session please review our 2023 Legislative Agenda

And to stay informed throughout the 88th Session, please subscribe to our Across the Lawn newsletter. Every Friday during session, Across the Lawn examines important issues, developments, progress, and more related to the session and our policies. During interim months and the interim year, the newsletter is monthly.

Tags: policy
Categories: Articles Policy

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