Bell is the Texas State Representative of House District 4 for the 86th Texas Legislature. District 4 is a district of the Texas House of Representatives that serves the whole of Kaufman County and Henderson County.
Laying out HB 3836
On Tuesday, April 16, I laid out House Bill 3836 before my colleagues in the House Committee on Public Education. HB 3836 amends the Texas Education Code to provide that districts shall consider the use of Open Educational Materials in addition to or in place of traditional educational methods, like textbooks. HB 3836 provides clarity for districts who are not aware that they can be considering OER materials for use in their curriculums. As technology improves, these resources will continue to ensure students achieve at their highest levels. Grateful for the testimony in support of HB 3836 from Forney ISD Chief Learning Officer Judy Webber and Chief of Information & Technology Kimberly Morisak, two vital HD 4 school administrators.
Laying out House Bill 3696
On Wednesday, April 17 I laid out House Bill 3696 to the Public Education Committee. HB 3696 proposes to allow both Career & Technical Education (CTE) courses and industry certifications to count as a full point for College, Career, and Military Readiness (CCMR) measures for state accountability ratings. CTE courses give high school students a head start on preparing for college and careers, and gives school districts the flexibility to choose which of these courses they want to offer to best help their students prepare for life after high school. On Thursday, the bill was unanimously passed out of committee 12-0.
Meeting with Constituents
It's always my pleasure to meet with constituents as they visit the State Capitol. On Monday, April 15 I had a great discussion with Clyde Waters, Kenneth Hancock, Orin Henry, and Chance Van Winkle, 4 members of the Henderson chapter of the Texas Farm Bureau. It was great to see some HD 4 students becoming politically active at such a young age. Later I enjoyed meeting with Ashley and Chloe Dunlap, who had a great time during on their visit to the Capitol. If you ever find yourself in Austin during the week, please come introduce yourself, I'd be happy to meet you!
HB 14, by Representative Stucky, passed out of the House on Wednesday, April 17. This bill is a great step forward towards providing law enforcement personnel with the resources they deserve. By creating a student loan repayment assistance program for future peace officers, Texas is poised to attract the best law enforcement candidates of the future. Happy to see the brave men and women that protect and secure our communities receive additional assistance.
HB 16, by Representative Leach, was also passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, April 17. As a strong pro-life supporter, I was happy to sign onto this bill as a co-author and vote yes when it reached the House Chamber. This bill defends Texas' most-vulnerable population by increasing protections for infants who survive abortion procedures to ensure that the highest standard of medical care is afforded to Texas' infants.
He is risen! I want to personally wish everyone of HD 4 an outstanding Easter Weekend. Thankful for all the Lord's blessings in my life, and hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend with their loved ones. I was blessed to have two of my grandkids, Case and Collins, join me on the House floor on Thursday, April 18.
April Legislative Action
An update on some of the bills I've actively had a role in this month. I joint-authored HB 4287 with Representative Zedler. HB 4287 revises the State's community supervision statutes so that the crimes of continuous human trafficking, aggravated promotion of prostitution, and indecency with a child are no longer eligible for judge-ordered, or jury-recommended, community supervision. This bill amends current law relating to changing the eligibility of persons charged with certain offenses to receive community supervision, including deferred adjudication community supervision. This bill is one that I am happy to sign onto as a join-author, as persons convicted of these crimes are not deserving of the community supervision that they may currently be granted. On Monday, Representative Zedler laid out HB 4287 before my colleagues and I in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, and the bill will be further discussed in the coming weeks.
HB 4242, by Representative Bernal, requires that independent groups of qualified educators with Texas teaching experience to vet the STAAR Exams for "readability", which is the ease with which passages can be read and understood. Studies have shown that the readability of past STAAR Tests have proven to be above grade level for students in third through eighth grade. On Thursday, the Committee on Public Education met to vote on HB 4242. During the hearing I moved that HB 4242, as substituted, be reported favorably to the House with the recommendation that it does pass. The motion prevailed unanimously, 12-0, and should soon be considered in the House.