House approves longer cap on top 10 percent law for UT
The University of Texas is a step closer to getting an extension of its authority to limit automatic admission to the Austin flagship.
The state House on Friday voted 131-7 in favor of House Bill 1843, authored by Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas. The measure now goes to the Senate.
A 1997 state law entitles students ranking in the top 10 percent of a Texas high school class to attend any of the state’s 38 public universities. But in 2009, the Legislature tweaked the law to give UT more flexibility in deciding admissions. Students have had to rank in the top 8 or 9 percent to qualify for automatic entry in recent years, depending on enrollment projections.
UT’s authority to impose a cap on top 10 percent admission expires after the 2015-16 academic year. Branch’s bill would extend that authority through 2017-18.
The upper chamber has already passed similar legislation, Senate Bill 1530, authored by Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo. That measure has been approved by the House Higher Education Committee and is pending in the Calendars Committee.
Pension bill falls victim to House deadline
Legislation aimed at bolstering the financial condition of the Employees Retirement System of Texas reached the House floor too late Thursday night to get a full airing and died at midnight.
But the proposed pension changes in House Bill 1882 will likely return to the House after the Senate takes action on a companion bill, giving lawmakers more time to consider the issues affecting 150,000 state workers. The bill came up shortly before the midnight deadline for the chamber to give preliminary approval to legislation that originated in the House.
To retire now, longtime employees have to satisfy the Rule of 80 — years of service plus age must equal 80 — with no minimum age. The bill establishes a minimum age of 62 for state workers to retire with full benefits but only for new hires.
The bill at one point applied the retirement changes to almost two-thirds of active state workers, but House Pensions Committee Chairman Bill Callegari, R-Katy, narrowed the reach of the bill in the face of strong opposition.
“I hope the Senate bill comes over,” Callegari said, adding that he’s optimistic that it will come over in an acceptable form.
“If we don’t do anything, it’ll cost us a lot more later,” he said.