The Daily Texan’s roundup of higher education legislation this session

Ireland Blouin, Senior News Reporter

The 88th Texas Legislative Session lasted from Jan. 10 to May 29 and passed 4,550 actions which now go their respective routes for further approval. These are the most significant bills that pertain to Texas higher education.

House Bill 1

A general appropriations bill that holds the $302 billion state budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year and how it will be distributed. Rep. Greg Bonnen authored the bill. HB1 allocates $2.9 billion to universities. It also bans state funding for diversity, equity and inclusion programs in public universities. The bill will be sent to the Texas Comptroller, the state’s chief tax collector, accountant, revenue estimator and treasurer for approval. If approved, it will become state law. 

The following bills are headed to Gov. Greg Abbott for approval. If approved, they will become state law.

House Bill 8

Relates to the financing of community colleges. Authored by Rep. Gary VanDeaver, the bill allocates millions of additional funds to the 50 public community college districts in Texas. 

House Bill 1361

Appoints a liaison officer to assist student parents at public higher education institutions by guiding and informing them about services on campus. The bill was authored by Rep. Penny Morales Shaw.

House Bill 2012

Bans prohibiting faculty members of public schools and institutions of higher education from displaying the national motto and pledge of allegiance in their classrooms. The bill was authored by Rep. Tom Oliverson.

House Bill 3993

Relates to automatic admission into higher education for non-traditional high school students. Homeschool high school graduates can receive a class rank based on SAT and ACT scores. If passed, the bill — authored by Rep. Dennis Paul — will go into effect for applicants applying for the fall 2024 semester. 

House Bill 4363

Establishes the Future Texas Teachers Scholarship Program for qualifying students at public institutions of higher education. The bill, authored by Rep. John Kuempel, creates the scholarship program to help recruit, prepare and retain a diversified workforce of teachers.  

Senate Bill 15

Requires student-athletes to only participate in and compete on college sports teams in alignment with their biological sex. Authored by Sen. Mayes Middleton, the bill, which supporters named the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” requires transgender women to play on men’s collegiate sports teams and transgender men to play on women’s collegiate sports teams.

Senate Bill 17

Bans DEI offices, officers, employees or contractors that perform DEI office duties in public institutions of higher education. Authored by multiple senators, this bill also prohibits requiring DEI-related training and statements.

Senate Bill 18

Changes tenure policies at public universities. The bill originally aimed to do away with tenure altogether but now only modifies tenure policy. The bill requires universities to outline clear guidelines for granting tenure and a “periodic performance evaluation process” for those who have it. Additionally, it allows university regents to create specific policies and procedures that could dismiss tenured faculty members if they are violated.