Last week the Chamber hosted State Senator José Menéndez (TX-26) for a Legislative Breakfast. Chamber Board member Dykema Cox Smith welcomed more than 75 Chamber business and community leaders to their downtown office for the legislative update. Senator Menéndez spoke about the major takeaways from the 85th Legislative Session as well as what can be expected in the special session set to begin July 18.
Senator Menéndez began his remarks by talking about “David’s Law” (SB 179), a bill he authored and was sponsored by Representative Ina Minjarez in the House. The bill was drafted in response to the January 2016 suicide death of David Molak, a 16-year old Alamo Heights High School student who was cyberbullied. SB 179 would increase criminal penalties for harassment, bullying, and cyberbullying of a public school student or minor. Menendez said David’s Law would help prevent and combat cyberbullying in schools across the State of Texas.
Appointed to serve on the Texas Senate Committee on Higher Education during the 84th and 85th Texas Legislature, Senator Menéndez has been a leader in advocating for public and higher education. He discussed efforts to sustain funding for our local universities and explained how the 35 percent reduction in special items funding will limit support for programs such as the Institute for Texan Cultures, UTSA’s Small Business Development Center, the San Antonio Life Sciences Institute, and others.
He also discussed the House bills he sponsored this legislative session, including HB 639, which authorizes public schools to purchase certain insurance coverage for the benefit of businesses and students participating in career and technology programs. HB 657 would require the admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee of a student served by special education who had not demonstrated satisfactory performance on the state reading and/or mathematics assessments to meet before the student was administered the exam a second time. The bill would allow the committee to promote the student to the next grade level if it concluded that the student had made sufficient progress in the measurable academic goals contained in the student’s individualized education program.
Senator Menéndez also discussed SB 1153, a bill he authored to allow parents the right to receive information regarding certain intervention strategies used to address learning difficulties.
In addition, he spoke at length about support for the military and veteran services. This past legislative session, he authored SB 1152, which would allow high school students who are 17 or older to receive four excused absences when pursuing enlistment in a branch of the armed services. Menéndez also sponsored HB 846, a bill aimed at improving the process of student financial assistance programs for veterans and families. Under his leadership, $8 million was appropriated this past legislative session to the Alamo Colleges for their Veterans Services Center. Most notably Senator Menéndez filibustered SB 715, an annexation bill that would limit the City’s ability to address and ensure compatible land use around military installations.
Senator Menéndez also touched on the various bills aimed at limiting local control, including tree ordinances, property tax reform, and the heated debate over the state’s so-called bathroom bill. He encouraged business and community leaders to maintain a strong presence at the State Capitol during the special session.
Senator Menéndez serves on the following Senate Committees: Higher Education, Criminal Justice, and Intergovernmental Relations.
The legislative breakfast was broadcasted live on the Chamber’s Facebook page. Click here to access the video.