Public Opinion Notes for a Few Items on the #TxLege Agenda for the Week of March 13

With all the bills that are going to get filed now in the system, the committees in both chambers will get even busier this week, and there is likely to be at least some drama in the Senate as one of the headline-grabbing pieces of legislation thus far in the session is on the intent calendar. We'll report back as events merit during the week. Remember that many of our legislatively focused items on the last poll are available in downloadable graphics on our latest polling page.

After a marathon hearing in the State Affairs Committee that garnered statewide and even a smattering of national media coverage last week, Senator Lois Kolkhorst’s SB 6, which seeks to legislate some of the ins and outs of access to bathrooms and other similarly bodily-related facilities, is on the Senate intent calendar starting Monday.  The bill’s supporters, including supporter-in-chief Dan Patrick, claim broad public support for the bill, though a reasonably careful examination of available public opinion polling reveals attitudes are at best ambivalent about assigning a high priority to the matter. Smart money is on GOP senators who have remained publicly uncommitted are likely to give in to the Lt. Governor even if they have doubts, especially this early.  Senator Eddie Lucio announced his support last week,to much surprise (just kidding) -- likely the sole Democratic Senator to do so.

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Very important24%
Somewhat important15%
Not very important13%
Not at all important38%
Don't know/No opinion11%

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Very important24%11%27%
Somewhat important13%12%17%
Not very important10%16%14%
Not at all important40%46%35%
Don't know/No opinion12%16%8%


After spending the interim leading often aggressive field hearings around the state as the chair of an interim committee appointed by Lt. Governor Patrick, Senate Paul Bettencourt will roll out SB 2, his much-anticipated (as these things go) property tax reform bill in the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday.  Among other things, it contains the provision to lower the rollback tax rate from the current 8 percent to 4 per cent, and a range of other provisions changing property tax appraisals and other tax related matters.  Dennis Bonnen’s house bill (HB 15) does some of the same things, though is less wide ranging and has some different means and mechanisms. Property taxes remain very much on the minds of Texans, especially Texas Republicans, after damning the 84th Legislature’s efforts with very faint praise.

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Redesigning the system of K-12 public school funding in Texas23%12%13%
Establishing a school voucher program in Texas3%4%5%
Continuing to limit government by approving no new spending and no new taxes9%19%21%
Lowering property tax bills for homeowners15%29%23%
Lowering business taxes4%2%3%
Increasing state funding for border security operations4%8%19%
Increasing funding for Child Protective Services22%6%6%
Don't know/no opinion19%20%9%

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Enough to make a difference to most Texas families25%20%35%
Not enough to make a difference63%47%53%
Don't know/No opinion12%33%12%

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categoryDemocratRepublicanTea Party
Enough to make a difference to most Texas families26%42%30%
Not enough to make a difference66%47%63%
Don't know/No opinion8%10%6%

On a less high profile note, Representative Rafael Anchia’s HB 404 get a hearing in House Public Education on Tuesday afternoon along with a raft of other bills.  Rep. Anchia's bill would require the Commissioner of Higher Education to appoint a team to review all fo the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills curriculum to make sure the material is current and preparing students for college, and to report their findings to the State Board of Education.  Seems likely the SBOE isn’t eager for more input, but it’s worth noting that dissatisfaction with the amount of testing has been a rare area of largely bipartisan agreement among the public in recent years.

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Extremely effective36%37%34%
Somewhat effective36%27%36%
Not very effective11%13%15%
Not at all effective8%9%6%
Don't know9%14%10%

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Creating a school voucher program13%
Expanding the number of charter schools7%
Increasing the pay of public school teachers13%
Increasing funding for the public school system20%
Providing more incentives for individuals to choose teaching as a profession8%
Reducing the number of standardized tests students must take21%
Increasing opportunities for online learning4%
Grading individual schools on an A-F scale7%
Expanding state-funded, pre-kindergarten programs7%

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Creating a school voucher program5%9%21%
Expanding the number of charter schools2%9%10%
Increasing the pay of public school teachers16%19%9%
Increasing funding for the public school system32%7%14%
Providing more incentives for individuals to choose teaching as a profession10%7%6%
Reducing the number of standardized tests students must take18%27%21%
Increasing opportunities for online learning4%6%4%
Grading individual schools on an A-F scale5%6%9%
Expanding state-funded, pre-kindergarten programs8%9%5%