The 150 members of the Texas House who will be assembling in January will include 43 new legislators and 24 sophomores. That’s almost half the Texas House. These freshmen and sophomores will have a steep learning curve in order to effectively represent their constituents. The legislative session lasts 20 weeks. Lawmakers can only vote on “emergency items” during the first 60 days of a session — bills designated by the governor as urgent or legislation that a supermajority of lawmakers deems worthy of immediate attention. So they’ll have most of that time to build the relationships they will need to navigate their first or second legislative session. House Republicans lost their supermajority in Tuesday’s election but will hold on to solid control when a new legislative session opens in January with 95 Republicans.
The 31 member Texas Senate will have more new members than in recent memory – 6. A special election will be required to replace the late Sen. Mario Gallegos, who passed away a few days before the election. The remaining 5 new members are all Republican. Four of them are former House members so they will be better prepared than most freshmen to hit the ground running.
The elections are over and the State Board of Education (SBOE) has seven new members. Observers will be watching over the next few months to categorize the new members by ideology. Opinions as to the size of the conservative bloc range from four to eight. An early test will be the adoption of new science textbooks next year.
Another coalition has formed, this one calling itself Texas Coalition for a Competitive Workforce. It is made up of several entities that have advocated for maintaining the state’s new assessment program, STAAR, intact. The coalition will likely agree to a few changes, like removing the 15% requirement for averaging EOC tests into final course averages, but want to maintain most of the other requirements. They also oppose changes to high school graduation requirements known as 4×4. Another area of interest is teacher quality and performance. Members of the coalition are Texas Association of Business, Texas Institute for Education Reform, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Governor’s business Council, and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.