The third special session of the legislature started last Monday, and as the clock ticks down, concerns are growing that the Texas House may not address school choice.
When the House met on Thursday, they did so for six minutes. The short meeting wasn’t out of the ordinary for the chamber. Since the special session began, the House has only met four times and has thus far passed none of the legislation Gov. Greg Abbott placed on the call.
At the top of that list is school choice.
Specifically, Abbott has called for “legislation providing education savings accounts for all Texas schoolchildren.”
But while the Senate made quick work of school choice—along with other items such as border security and ending COVID vaccine mandates—the House has taken a much slower pace.
Only this week did the House State Affairs Committee consider border security and COVID vaccine mandate legislation. And while the committee approved a couple bills on Thursday, legislation to impose a state criminal penalty for improper entry from a foreign nation has been left pending.
The future looks much more uncertain for school choice legislation.
Last week, House Speaker Dade Phelan referred the Senate’s school choice bill to the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity & Enrichment. Notably, most of the members of that committee either voted against or refused to cast their vote on school choice during the regular legislative session earlier this year. No hearing on the bill has been scheduled as of yet.
While school choice legislation has passed the Senate numerous times over the past several years, it has never received a vote in the House. And daylight between the two chambers on the issue only appears to be growing.
Gov. Abbott, meanwhile, insists that educational freedom is closer than it has ever been to becoming law, and has said he may call lawmakers back for yet another special session if it is killed in the House again.
When the House reconvenes on Monday, it will already be halfway through the 30-day session. Any bills that are not sent to the governor by the 30th day are killed, and the process must start over again.
With every day that passes with seemingly no progress on the issue in the House, a fourth special session appears to be increasingly likely.