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On Friday Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released committee assignments for the 2015 legislative session. That task included appointing his successor to helm the Senate’s Education Committee.
Patrick tapped Sen. Larry Taylor as his replacement, setting up an interesting dynamic between the competing education committees.
The Texas Tribune, writing about the appointment, noted that Taylor has been an adversary to trial lawyers in Texas, including Steve Mostyn. Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a group to which Taylor has close ties, heavily backed Taylor in his election.
With most of the heavy lifting on tort reform complete, TLR rolled out a new political group, Texas for Education Reform. The group spent large sums lobbying during it’s first session in existence, and pushed a policy agenda including more online education and charter school growth.
One of the group’s priorities, A-F School Ratings, was recently promoted by Patrick and derided by the Dallas Morning News. Currently the state’s ranking system for public school performance is needlessly confusing. Patrick and TER want to make the truth about performance easy for parents to grasp.
After winning his general election, longtime TLR employee and most recently spokeswoman for TER Sherry Sylvester was named to the Patrick transition team.
On the other side of the rotunda, Joe Straus appears set to appoint Texas Parent PAC darling Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock to chair the lower chamber’s education committee. Parent PAC and its supporters are defenders of the status quo in education. Even some of the more moderate reforms pushed by TER may upset the status quo.
Paired with Lt. Gov. Patrick’s comments on reforming education these committee assignments set up possible drama in the 84th Legislature.