News Roundup: Texas Senate Unanimously Passes $5,000 Teacher Pay Raise Bill

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMarch 5, 2019 1:58 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The Texas Senate unanimously passed a bill to give every classroom teacher in the state a $5,000 raise on Monday evening. State Sen. Jane Nelson is the bill’s author. The Flower Mound Republican added an amendment before the final vote.

“It adds librarians to the $5,00 pay raise, which as I stated earlier increases the fiscal note by $53 million, but I – after having listened to the testimony I think we need to do this,” Nelson said.

The total cost of the pay raise is estimated to be more than $3.6 billion in the next two-year budget. The bill is part of a larger effort to rework how the state funds public schools – one of the top priorities of the 2019 Texas legislative session.

Texas health officials confirmed 186 cases of mumps in immigrant detention facilities across the state.

Houston Public Media’s Elizabeth Trovall has more details on the months-long outbreak.

The Texas Department of State Health Services says 181 detainees and five facility employees contracted mumps since last October. Outbreaks happened in facilities holding both minors and adults. 41 of those cases were confirmed in Houston and the surrounding area. Officials say the outbreak hasn’t spread outside immigrant detention facilities.

A Texas Congresswoman is trying to combat anti-vaccination messaging on social media with new legislation. Houston Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee said Monday she wants technology companies to review anti-vaccine content on their platforms.

“And that these companies check to maintain that focus is on materials dealing with documented, peer-reviewed scientific journals, acknowledge that review by these companies is based on the need to intervene against a potential national health crisis,” Lee said.

Jackson Lee’s office points out that the number of children receiving exemptions from vaccinations in Texas has risen dramatically in recent years, from 3,000 in 2003 to 53,000 in 2016.

Just last month, YouTube said it would prevent channels that promote anti-vaccination content from running advertising. As first reported by BuzzFeed News, YouTube said those videos are considered “dangerous and harmful content.”

A Texas lawmaker is filing a bill to address corruption in financial incentives related to affordable housing. The measure would remove all elected officials at the state, county and city level from the affordable housing tax credit award process.

State Rep. Eric Johnson announced the legislation in a news conference Monday.

The Dallas Democrat says he’s proposing the measure because elected officials have abused their role in this process repeatedly.

“We saw it again last Friday when a former Dallas City Councilwoman pleaded guilty to taking some $40,000 in bribes in exchange for her support of an affordable housing development,” Johnson says.

Johnson says he will file this ethics reform bill this week, and hopes it will get bipartisan support. Johnson is also one of nine candidates currently running for mayor of Dallas.