Legislative Update
03/27/2023, 10:00:02 AM
University of Houston System

Dear UH System Faculty and Staff,

Now that we are approaching the half-way mark of the 88th Texas Legislative Session, I’d like to update you on legislation of interest for higher education in our state. The legislature has filed more than 8,000 bills, more than any other session before it, and my office is monitoring more than 650 of those bills because of their effect on higher education in our state.

Most notably, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced earlier in the session that he would be prioritizing the passage of a series of higher education related bills. I consider these bills the most notable pieces of legislation for higher education. Now that these bills have been filed and their text is available, I am sharing them with you below.

Senate Bill 15 by State Senator Mayes Middleton
Relating to requiring a student of a public institution of higher education who competes in intercollegiate athletic competitions to do so based on the student’s biological sex.

Senate Bill 16 by Senator Brian Hughes
Relating to the purpose of public institutions of higher education and a prohibition on compelling students enrolled at those institutions to adopt certain beliefs.

Senate Bill 17 by Senator Brandon Creighton
Relating to public higher education reform; authorizing administrative penalties.

Senate Bill 18 by Senator Brandon Creighton
Relating to tenure and employment status at public institutions in higher education in this state.

Senate Bill 19 by Senator Joan Huffman & House Bill 1595 by Representative Greg Bonnen
Relating to the administrative and investment of, and distribution and use of money from, certain constitutional and statutory funds to support general academic teaching institutions in achieving national prominence as major research universities and driving the state economy; designating the national research fund as the Texas University Fund.

Senate Joint Resolution 5 by Senator Joan Huffman & House Joint Resolution 3 by Representative Greg Bonnen
Proposing a constitutional amendment renaming the national research university fund as the Texas University Fund, providing for the appropriation of certain investment income from the economic stabilization fund to the Texas University Fund, excepting appropriations to and from the Texas University Fund from the constitutional limit on the rate of growth of appropriations, and appropriating money from the general revenue fund to the Texas University Fund to be spent for purposes of providing funding to certain public institutions of higher education to achieve national prominence as major research universities and drive the state economy.

In addition, both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees are in the process of marking up, or amending, their respective budget bills prior to advancing them to reconcile their differences in a conference committee. We continue to communicate the priorities of our system, which focuses primarily on the legislature providing increased financial resources to ensure student success and maintaining affordability for them along with the individual priorities of each university within our system.
As always, please do understand that the legislative session is a process that allows for input from affected parties and that most legislation is modified in some way during that process. While as a state agency, the UH System and its universities are prohibited from supporting or opposing legislation, we do participate in the process and are asked to provide input as to how proposed legislation might negatively or positively affect the mission and goals of the universities in our system.

For clarity, any individual is permitted to provide input to their elected representatives on any legislation. If you choose to do so, you are contacting them as an individual and not as a representative of the university in which you are employed. Please be aware that using any state resources (i.e. university email address, phone, or computer) to do so is strictly prohibited.

If you wish to individually track these or any other bills this session, the legislature provides a free tracking service that will give notice of any updates on changes to legislation and when public hearings or debates will take place on them. You can access that by going to Texas Legislature Online and creating your own profile.

The 88th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature will conclude on Memorial Day, May 29th, 2023. I plan to update you again on the outcome of the legislative session at that time.

Thank you,

JASON S. M. SMITH (’09), M.C.M.
Vice Chancellor
Government & Community Relations
University of Houston System
832.842.9064 office 
Follow me on Twitter: @UHjsmith

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