Higher education bills under consideration in Texas lege.

Three bills pertaining to Sam Houston State University are currently under consideration in the Texas Senate and House.

Senate Bill 150, authored by Senator Kel Selinger—R, Amarillo, includes requests from institutions of higher education statewide including a request from SHSU for $48 million for the “construction of a laboratory building.” Its companion, House Bill 100, was authored by Representative John Zerwas—R, Fort Bend, and includes similar language.

“It’s still under consideration from what we understand, and we’re hoping that it will be passed, but of course, as all legislation is, until it is on the governor’s desk and it has been signed, it is not law,” university spokeswoman Julia May said. “So it is still under the consideration stage, and we are still very hopeful that it will be passed.”

According to May, this building is part of the master plan however, specific features the building may include, its official name and when construction could begin upon approval, are still unknown and depend on legislative action.

“They’re just still so many considerations for once we get approval, so it’s kind of a lengthy process, but this is certainly one of the necessary things—we have to have legislative approval for this,” May said. “We have started off with one budget and then, of course, we’re waiting to see what we will be approved for before we can go forward and make those decisions as to what all will be in the building.”

SB 150 was voted out of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee April 7 and is currently waiting to receive its hearing on the Senate floor. HB 100 was left pending in the House’s equivalent committee as of Wednesday.

According to Mike Wintemute, associate vice chancellor for governmental relations with the Texas State University System, depending on which bill progresses faster, the authors will collaborate to ensure no discrepancies.

The third bill under consideration is Senate Bill 177, also authored by Selinger. According to Wintemute, the bill will affect the governing boards of all six university systems in Texas as well as the independent universities like Stephen F. Austin State University, Midwestern State University, Texas Southern University and Texas Women’s University.

“[Senate Bill 177] is attempting to identify the appropriate roles for Boards of Regents as it relates to how not only university systems are governed,” Wintemute said. “So it contains a host of recommendations that in many cases are based on best practices that are identified nationally in university governance.”

However, Wintemute said the bill, if passed, will have only a minor impact on the TSUS Board of Regents.

“I think the impact will be minimal,” Wintemute said. “Our Board of Regents already governs in a manner that is consistent with this bill and that’s part of the tradition of our system. We have very decentralized management structure, more decentralized than other systems, in that our university presidents are recognized to be the chief executive officers of each institution and are afforded great latitude in how they manage the day-to-day operations of those institutions which is what I think this bill gets at. So I don’t think it will have any major impact on our Board of Regents, but that’s because our Board of Regents already governs in a manner that’s consistent with this bill.”

SB 177 was voted out of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee March 23 and is waiting to be brought up on the Senate floor once more.

If passed, the bills will take effect Sept. 1 or immediately if voted upon by a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate.


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