Legislative Update
Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Greetings,

Governor Greg Abbott issued a special election proclamation for proposed constitutional amendments.

The Texas Legislature adjourned the second called special session of the year. Despite several setbacks, the GOP managed to pass many of the governor’s requests. Most notable in education is a bill that provides for a one-time payment to compensate for cost-of-living increases for retired educators in TRS. Also passed was legislation revamping the bail system.

In higher education, President Joe Biden extends a freeze on repayment of student loans while many are pressing for full forgiveness. Student loan applications are lagging this year, indicating many low-income students are not starting or returning to a higher education institution. For students approaching college graduation, the idea of a federal college completion fund is being considered. Many universities already are providing some form of completion grant.

Debates on the GOP ban on mandated mask use continue in courts around the country. New ideas regarding senior citizen care are coming to the forefront after the tragic effects of COVID-19 were observed in nursing homes nationally.

We will be following legislation at the state and federal levels that pertains to higher education and its impact on UTA. As you receive updates, please let us know if there are any topics you would like to hear more about from Government Relations.

Thank you for your dedication to UTA and Go Mavs!

— UTA Government Relations

Texas Capital

Second ending

Five things you should know about second special session of the 87th Legislature.

Student loan debt shown as ball and chain.

Easing debt

Biden extends freeze on student loans as progressives push to cancel them.

University Center mall filled with students, some wearing masks and others not.

Return to campus

The rush back to college campuses is leaving behind the most vulnerable.

Graduates leaving commencement ceremonies with their diplomas in hand.

Graduation guidance

How a federal college completion fund could be a game-changer.

13th check coming soon to eligible retirees!

Extra paycheck

Retired Texas teachers closer to getting a “13th check” after House endorses legislation.

Young child in classroom wearing a mask and face shield while other children do not wear anything.

Mask deliberations

GOP bans on school masks draw federal civil rights challenges.

Bail Bonds sign

Collateral change

Rewrite of state’s bail system aimed at keeping more people behind bars who can’t post cash.

Older man with younger nurse in home setting.

Home Sweet Home

Will the nursing home of the future be an actual home?

State Department extends National Interest Exceptions for certain travelers

On Aug. 12, the U.S. Department of State announced an extention of National Interest Exceptions (NIE) for certain travelers from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Ireland, and India related to Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 10143, 10199, and subsequent proclamations.

Per the announcement, students on F‑1 and M‑1 visas for academic programs beginning on or after Aug. 1, 2021, do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel. Students may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the start of their program. Additionally, new students who are deemed qualified for an F‑1 or M‑1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel.

Additionally, an administrator at Brigham Young University has put together a Google spreadsheet with the wait times for student visa appointments at all U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. The spreadsheet is updated every Sunday.

State of Texas economic overview

Economist forecasts continue to look strong for Texas, the United States, and the world, but there are obstacles on the horizon. U.S. jobless claims are near their lowest level since the pandemic began. Stock market indexes have broken numerous records over the last year. However, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, indicated that the central bank could begin scaling back economic stimulus policies, such as bond purchases, over the next year. This statement is influenced by inflation of consumer prices, which are expected to be up 4.8% from a year earlier. Most importantly, the resurgence of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and its associated impact on hiring, shipping, and supply chains have slowed U.S. expansion in August. In the near term, it is expected that the Texas recovery continues, and state revenue collections remain strong, despite some headwinds.

Upcoming Hearings

The Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate live and archived sessions are available now.

Appointed positions

The Office of the Governor is always looking for people to apply to various boards, including higher education. If you need assistance in applying, please contact Jeff Jeter at jeter@uta.edu. See a full list of available positions.

Your input helps UTA

The University needs the support of its faculty, staff, and alumni to ensure we continue to receive resources to serve our students, conduct research, and expand our programs. For more information on how you can support the University and its legislative goals, contact:

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