The House Select Committee on Opioids & Substance Abuse has met four times to discuss an epidemic sweeping the nation, claiming lives and costing taxpayer money through law enforcement, emergency responder, and healthcare services. The Select Committee has heard testimony from medical professionals regarding prescribing practices, and from law enforcement to discuss the challenges they face in interacting with individuals addicted to prescription and illicit substances. The Select Committee will hear from the public then produce a report of legislative recommendations and best practices by November 1, 2018.
The House Committee on Public Education met over two days on May 27 and May 28, along with the House Committee on Public Health, to discuss increasing school safety across Texas. After tragic school shootings, most recently in Santa Fe, Texas, the Committee met to discuss a variety of methods to reduce these devastating events from occurring. Similar to several recommendations made by Governor Abbott as a result of roundtable discussions with school personnel, law enforcement, and school shooting survivors, the Committees discussed several aspects that need to be addressed for increased safety in schools. Notably, student mental health access, reducing administrative burdens on school counselors, and a variety of emergency management techniques were front and center in the discussion.
Reducing burdensome, inefficient, and exhaustive standardized testing has been a priority for Representative VanDeaver since being elected to office in 2015. Representative VanDeaver has championed several bills to overhaul the standardized testing system in Texas.
House Bill 1164, written by VanDeaver, became law in 2015. The result of House Bill 1164 was a portfolio writing pilot program that paves the way for a new method of assessing student writing.
House Bill 515, overwhelming passed by the House in 2017, would have saved millions of dollars in taxpayer money and removed unnecessary standardized testing requirements. The bill, had it passed into law, would have eliminated testing administered by the state that is not required by the federal government. The bill would have also redesigned the ineffective, and exhaustive retesting of students who do not pass the state tests in their first attempt. Rather than the current standardized testing system that focuses on testing until you pass, House Bill 515 would have guaranteed students an opportunity to receive help and further instruction before being forced to test again under high stress stakes.
Both House Bill 1164 and House Bill 515 were discussed in a May 24, 2018 House Public Education Committee Hearing.
The Speaker of the House has appointed Representative VanDeaver and nine colleagues to a working group on sexual harassment. The working group will meet to discuss recent revisions adopted to the House policies on sexual harassment, as well as explore the need for further policy changes. Representative VanDeaver is a husband, a father to two daughters, and the grandfather to his two-year-old grand-daughter. He is a firm believer in the rights of all individuals to work in a harassment free environment, and is appreciative to be entrusted with an opportunity to weigh in on such an important dialogue that affects one of the most notable, and venerable workplaces in Texas.