A House version of a bill designed to allow Barbers Hill ISD to exit Lee College’s service area, and then allow Lone Star College to come in with its own campus failed to make it out of committee earlier this month. A Senate version of the bill has now also “died” on Deadline Day.
This means any effort for BHISD to leave the college’s service area will not come through the Texas Legislature.
Saturday was the last day for House committees to report Senate bills, as well as Senate joint resolutions. The deadline passed with Sen. Brandon Creighton’s SB2344 left pending in the Senate Higher Education Committee.
Two bills, HB 3835 and HB 3797, filed by District 15 Rep. Steven Toth “died” on the deadline for House committees to report on bills. The current law allows community college districts to annex only adjacent schools districts.
The HB 3797 bill was left pending in committee April 24 while HB 3835 was referred to committee in March and never left.
Dr. Dennis Brown, Lee College president, commented on the Senate version of the bill at a recent board meeting.
“We are getting close to the end of the session, close to the end for the opportunity for any bills to be heard on the House or Senate Floor,” Brown said. “But things can happen. So, we will be on guard and looking. Our consultants are checking every day and let us know immediately if anything were to happen. But, I am cautiously optimistic that we will not see any legislation passed this session and sent on to the governor.”
Brown also looked ahead after the “death” of the bills, saying there is more work to be done.
“I do believe, and this is from the regents who attended the Senate and House higher education hearings, it is very clear there will be some interim charges likely both from the Senate and House higher education committees, related to annexations and service areas and dual credit,” Brown said. “I believe next year, it would be advisable for us to continue to retain the services we have engaged in Austin because we need to have people on the ground and in the offices on a regular basis.”
For his part, Dr. Greg Poole, BHISD superintendent, has stated repeatedly the community college service area system in Texas is broken.
“We remain confident that the broken system will be addressed by state leaders and reiterate that the solutions we would entertain would need to be consistent with the legislation we proposed that last two sessions - a full service locally governed community college system at little or no cost to our taxpayers,” Poole said.
Creighton’s office was contacted for reaction to the bill’s “death” as well as if he plans to file more legislation in the 2021 session but did not return messages.
Creighton had previously filed bills during the 2015 and 2017 sessions to change the law to allow BHISD to have its own community college. Then-Rep. Wayne Faircloth filed House versions of the bills. They all died before deadline.