On April 25, 2019, Texas PTA President-Elect Suzi Kennon traveled from her home in the Metroplex to Austin to offer public testimony on SB 3/HB 3 for school finance reform. During the 86th legislative session, Suzi testified three times on different bills important to Texas PTA’s legislative priorities. This is one such day.
Thursday, April 25
4:00 am: My alarm goes off. Today I’m traveling to the State Capitol to testify on SB 3/HB 3 for school finance reform in a hearing of the Senate Committee on Education. The Texas Senate just published their version of the bill last night and it’s almost 300 pages long! We have folks reading the bill as I travel to Austin.
4:45 am: It’s time to head out. I grab some much-needed coffee and breakfast from home and then hit the road, hoping to make the 220-mile journey without any pit stops.
8:20 am: Traffic was forgiving, and I arrive in Austin.
8:30 am: With just enough time, I hurry to the rotunda in the Capitol building to meet Ellen Arnold, Texas PTA’S Governmental Affairs, and Taylor Aycock, Ellen’s Policy and Communications Associate.
We head over to register me to testify on behalf of Texas PTA. During our walk, Ellen and Taylor update me on what the Senate’s version of the bill looks like as it pertains to Texas PTA’s legislative priorities.
8:45 am: We arrive in the committee room and find it full, so we head over to the overflow room to watch the hearing on closed-circuit TV.
9:00 am: The hearing starts with another bill. Committee Chairman Larry Taylor then lays out SB 3 and answers questions from the other Senators.
9:45 am: Public Testimony begins with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) answering questions from the Committee. The next panel of witnesses is made up of invited guests (experts on certain parts of the bill).
10:55 am: The Committee adjourns and the Senators head to the Senate Chamber for their daily session.
11:00 am: Ellen, Taylor, and myself head to the Capitol Grill to have a phone conference with Texas PTA leadership to discuss HB 281/SB 29.
12:30 pm: Our call wraps and we take time to eat lunch. I grab what has become my usual at the Capitol Grill – a scoop of chicken salad and a large diet soda.
As we eat, we discuss the layout of SB 3 and make some tweaks on our testimony based on what we’ve learned so far this morning. We decide to testify “on” the bill instead of “for” it as we don’t feel we’ve had enough time to thoroughly study the bill.
12:55 pm: Texas PTA Associate Executive Director Darren Grissom arrives with flyers his team has created in the last hour for us to distribute to Representatives about HB 281. We spend the next half hour discussing both HB 281 and SB3.
1:30 pm: The Senate adjourns and we head back to the hearing. Taylor went ahead of us and managed to get us seats in the hearing room.
1:50 pm: The hearing reconvenes and testimony continues.
I spend the next six hours waiting for my turn to testify – listening to testimony and working on my laptop
8:10 pm: My panel is called for testimony and I’m the second person on the panel to testify. Our panel lasts 30 minutes.
A little over 12 hours after arriving in Austin and almost 17 hours after my day started, I leave the Capitol to grab some dinner and check in to my hotel for the night. While it was a long day, it was also very productive and successful!