Texas AFT :October 22, 2021: Possible ‘premium vacation’ for TRS retirees; A wrap on the third particular session; Early voting begins on state election

Texas Legislature concludes its third particular session with a flurry of payments handed

Looking up into the spiraling Texas State capitol dome

On Tuesday, the Texas Legislature adjourned sine die, placing an finish to a packed third particular session. The major focus was redrawing district maps for Texas’ State Board of Education, Senate, House, and U.S. Congress—all of which handed—however Gov. Greg Abbott additionally added a number of different objects to the agenda. Passed laws additionally included payments that discriminated towards transgender student athletes, appropriated federal stimulus cash, funded a possibility for a “premium holiday” for TRS healthcare, offered a tax break to owners, and elevated funding to institutes of upper schooling throughout Texas.

 

Redistricting full, however faces authorized motion
All 4 redistricting maps have been constantly attacked all through the method for underrepresenting voters of shade. MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) filed swimsuit towards the state on all 4 maps on behalf of particular person voters and a coalition of Latino organizations dedicated to securing honest redistricting plans. The lawsuit asks the federal courtroom to toss out the brand new maps as a result of the maps are unconstitutional and violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. According to the grievance, the brand new maps for Congress, and the Texas House, Senate, and State Board of Education don’t mirror the expansion of the Latino neighborhood.

Lawmakers carve up billions in federal pandemic help, with potential ‘premium holidays’ for TRS retiree healthcare members

Text of Teacher Retirement System etched into long stone sign at building

The Legislature additionally handed SB 8, which appropriates federal stimulus funds given to Texas as a part of the American Rescue Plan. SB 8 appropriates over $286 million to the Teachers Retirement System of Texas to offset COVID-19 prices. TRS is contemplating making a premium vacation for a sure variety of months during which eligible retirees wouldn’t pay TRS-Care premiums. The funds can even be used to scale back extra premium will increase for TRS-ActiveCare members that in any other case might have occurred within the 2022-2023 plan yr. More particular info on TRS-Care and TRS-ActiveCare plan premiums will probably develop into out there this December.

The invoice additionally allocates greater than $7.2 billion to the state’s unemployment compensation fund, which was overwhelmed with claims final yr throughout the pandemic.

Transgender sports activities invoice passes as President Biden calls it “bullying disguised as legislation”
In an enormous blow to LGBTQ+ students and activists throughout the state, the Legislature lastly handed HB 25, which might discriminate towards transgender student athletes. The invoice would stop transgender students from competing in sports activities with their very own gender group. This invoice and related payments filed throughout the nation have induced the problem to realize nationwide consideration. The Biden White House launched an announcement this week condemning the passage of HB 25 and calling that invoice and related payments prefer it “bullying disguised as legislation.” At least 5 state legislatures throughout the nation have additionally handed related payments.

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Voters will determine on property tax break with homestead exemption enhance
Voters could have the final phrase in May 2022 on property tax adjustments that sailed by means of each chambers Monday. Passed unanimously, SJR 2 would increase the state homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000 for varsity property taxes, saving the typical house owner about $176 in financial savings, in response to the invoice’s creator, Sen. Paul Bettencourt.

After lawmakers have been unable to agree on different types of property tax aid—together with one-time rebates to owners—lawmakers instantly fast-tracked the homestead exemption proposal. The Senate handed the proposal with out listening to from a single member of the general public earlier than the language was publicly out there, with the House passing the invoice later within the night.

If authorised by voters, the constitutional modification would price the state about $600 million yearly. Bettencourt mentioned the modification could be paid from state surpluses the primary yr. However, it’s not clear how the measure could be paid for sooner or later.

College campuses get a funding enhance for renovation, building
In the final week of the particular session, the Legislature handed a invoice authorizing the issuance of $3.3 billion in tuition income bonds for establishments of upper schooling to finance building tasks. While these “tuition revenue” bonds are the first mechanism for funding college capital tasks, the Legislature had not handed a package deal since 2015.

Note: At press time, particular session payments handed nonetheless await the governor’s motion together with his signature for approval, no motion taken for approval, or a veto.

What didn’t go
Two of the governor’s agenda objects that didn’t go the legislature have been payments to extend penalties for illegally voting—or making trustworthy errors when voting—and to dam COVID-19 vaccine mandates for all entities in Texas. Although no laws was handed to ban COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the governor had already launched an government order blocking these mandates, and the authorized struggle over that challenge is ongoing. Even with out these two agenda objects passing, it presently appears unlikely that the Legislature will enter a fourth particular session any time quickly. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Abbott acknowledged that “there is no need for another special session at this time.”

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2021 constitutional modification election in Texas: What it’s worthwhile to know

Looking down, two feet in tennis shoes angle into a

On November 2, Texans could have a possibility to vote on eight propositions that may amend the state structure and alter state legislation.

Early voting began Monday and runs to Friday, October 29. Election day is November 2. Election Day voting hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in any respect polling locations statewide.

Ballot Propositions & Language

Proposition 1
Relating to Gambling Authorizes skilled sports activities workforce charitable organizations to conduct raffles at rodeo venues

Proposition 2
Relating to Bond points Authorizes a county to challenge bonds to fund infrastructure and transportation tasks in undeveloped and blighted areas

Proposition 3
Relating to Religion Amends the Texas Constitution to ban the state or any political subdivision from enacting a legislation, rule, order, or proclamation that limits non secular companies or organizations

Proposition 4
Relating to the State judiciary Changes the eligibility necessities for the next judicial places of work: a justice of the supreme courtroom, a decide of the courtroom of felony appeals, a justice of a courtroom of appeals, and a district decide

Proposition 5
Relating to the State judiciary Authorizes the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct to just accept and examine complaints and experiences towards candidates operating for state judicial workplace

Proposition 6
Regarding Healthcare and Constitutional rights Amends the Texas Constitution to state that residents of nursing amenities, assisted dwelling amenities, or state-supported dwelling facilities have a proper to designate a vital caregiver that might not be prohibited from visiting the resident

Proposition 7
Relating to Taxes Amends the Texas Constitution to permit the legislature to increase a homestead tax restrict for surviving spouses of disabled people so long as the partner is 55 years previous and resides on the house

Proposition 8
Relating to Taxes and Veterans Amends the Texas Constitution to permit the legislature to use a homestead tax exemption for surviving spouses of members of the navy to these fatally injured within the line of obligation

For extra info on voting, go to https://www.votetexas.gov/voting/. For extra element on the poll, see the Texas Tribune breakdown.


Broad coalition kinds to oppose Austin poll measure that would bankrupt town

Blue text in a red bordered circle reads: No way on Prop ASome 115 organizations—together with the Texas AFL-CIO, which Texas AFT is affiliated with—have joined to oppose Proposition A, an Austin poll measure that may use a “random number” to specify what number of law enforcement officials needs to be employed.

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While the Prop A measure is Austin-specific, a latest legislation handed by the Legislature within the spring might make related poll measures in different cities a big menace to metropolis budgets and operations statewide. That legislation prohibits many municipalities from ever reducing the quantities budgeted to policing, that means that if cities are pressured to rent exorbitant ranges of officers, they will’t legally make changes to decrease them.

Prop A mandates town rent 2 law enforcement officials for each 1,000 residents, a quantity police officers referred to as “meaningless” and “random.” (Austin presently is at 1.8 officers per thousand.) City officers estimate the measure would price from $50 million to $120 million a yr, forcing cuts to different companies like paramedics and firefighters. Austin handed a record-high police finances this yr and initiated two new coaching academies to handle staffing shortages. You can discover out extra concerning the struggle towards this dangerous poll measure at No Way on Prop A.

Pol. Adv. paid for by Texas AFT.


‘Summer’ is prepared that will help you deal with student loan debt after AFT’s lawsuit victory

Text: Student loans are a maze. We're partnering to guide the way. Image: Graphic of two hands holding a map through a maze of buildings


In a earlier Hotline we advised you about AFT’s landmark authorized victory opening a brand new pathway to erasing student loan debt.

What it’s worthwhile to do now to get assist from the AFT:


Events

Bridges Institute affords Mindfulness Essentials sequence

Color bar orange with text: Mindfulness Essentials
The Bridges Institute will probably be internet hosting the Mindfulness Essentials sequence by way of Zoom subsequent month. The sequence began on Wednesday and can proceed every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., all through the months of September and October. These free instructive webinars will assist members higher perceive their thoughts and feelings. CPE credit will probably be issued per hour of participation. Sign up for the webinars right here.

In addition to the instructive webinars, The Bridges Institute can even host weekly observe periods during which members can participate in guided meditation. These periods start September 20 and happen on subsequent Mondays, from 6:15 p.m. to six:45 p.m., all through the months of September and October. Sign up for the observe periods right here.


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