A weekly Texas Legislative Update will be provided in Serving You. Click here for the Chamber’s Legislative Priorities and click here to view the Chamber’s bill tracker recording the bills the Chamber is following.

While the 86th Texas Legislative Session is still five weeks from concluding, that really only leaves about 15 days of official activity. The end is drawing very near. One of the Chamber’s top legislative priorities is to support a pro-business climate and legislatively that means supporting education.

Specifically, the Chamber supports education at the community college level as an important contributor to training students for jobs in the workforce and providing a path for certification, and supports career and technology education in conjunction with public schools and community colleges where appropriate to meet the needs of Texas employers.

One of the Chamber’s primary functions is economic development activities to recruit and retain jobs to New Braunfels. A vital component of a strong economy and having a community where businesses want to be is having skilled and educated workers. If we do not have the available workforce, a business cannot thrive here.

Apprenticeships and internships can be very valuable to a student on a workforce education track, but unfortunately these opportunities can be rare in many communities. The high cost of apprenticeships may make them unattractive to businesses. You’ll see many of the bills we support address the expansion of these types of on-the-job workforce training.

Public education is always a hot topic. Both the House Public Education and the Senate Education committees are some of the most active in terms of number of bills. In the House, the Public Education Committee has more bills at 342 that any other committee and in the Senate, the Education Committee has the fourth most bills with 238.

There are several bills addressing career and technology education that we’re tracking this session although none have had much movement. A consistent theme with these bills is to find a way to encourage more career and technology education and establish funding options for apprenticeships and internships. Some of these bills provide tax refunds or credits to businesses that employ an apprentice, allow a school district to reimburse an employer for providing a paid internships, and establish a grant program to provide funding to school districts for career and technology education courses offered during the summer.

Another bill, SB 508, will develop and implement a statewide online education and career advising tool to assist children in making informed, meaningful, and attainable post-secondary and career plans. This bill is subject to federal funding but would provide a grant program for paid internships awarded to schools to reimburse private entities for all or part of the paid internship or apprenticeship.

All of the bills mentioned above are supported by the Chamber’s legislative priorities for workforce training and career and technology education. We hope to see some more movement on these soon as time is running out. Next week we’ll review some of the Chamber’s mobility priorities and the bills that would address those.