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Home | Tag Archives: Texas Association of Business

Tag Archives: Texas Association of Business

Texas Law protects landlords who lease to non-violent ex-offenders

A new law protects Texas landlords from liability when they lease apartments to persons with a non-violent criminal history.

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, which backed House Bill 1510 in the 2015 Legislature, has published a set of guidelines to help both landlords and potential tenants understand their rights under the new law, which went into effect Jan. 1.

Doug Smith, a policy analyst with Texas CJC, says the aim is to keep people who’ve served their time from going back to prison.

“Two of the factors that are most associated with recidivism, with increased likelihood that someone will be rearrested or go back to prison, are employment instability and housing instability,” says Smith.

He says the law was formulated along with the Texas Smart-On-Crime Coalition and other groups as diverse as the ACLU and the Texas Association of Business. The guide instructs landlords about how the law works to protect them when they lease a dwelling to a tenant with a record. Another guide is written to instruct advocates and individuals seeking housing.

Smith says in the past, many property owners have had a general ban on leasing to persons with criminal records. He says that while the law does not require landlords to rent to ex-offenders, he’s hoping it will change at least some minds.

“For landlords it really raising awareness that the threat of liability is not there,” says Smith. “And if they take a risk on someone who might have a non-violent offense, they don’t have to be concerned that they might get sued by other tenants within that community.”

The new guidelines are being distributed to property managers and landlords across the state, as well as advocacy groups and others. Copies of the guidelines are available at texascjc.org

Author: Mark Richardson, Public News Service

Study: Many Texas students graduated without passing exams

In Texas’ biggest school districts, most students who failed up to two state exit-level tests were allowed to graduate this year because of a new state law, according to a study by one of the law’s biggest critics.

The Texas Association of Business surveyed the state’s 100 largest districts; in the 78 that responded, 86.4 percent of students were able to graduate without passing all their tests, the group announced Thursday.

“We think that is a shockingly high number, effectively that the high school diploma for those kids means little or nothing, and they will not be ready to succeed in life,” Bill Hammond, CEO of the association, said at an Austin press conference.

Senate Bill 149, by Sen. Kel Seliger, R- Amarillo, lets high school seniors graduate without passing all five state exams, if they meet certain requirements. The bill became law in May and took effect immediately, so seniors in the class of 2015 could request exemption.

The law — which overwhelmingly passed the Legislature and will expire in two years if lawmakers opt not to renew it — was intended to provide otherwise qualified high school students a way to graduate if their performance on state standardized exams are the only obstacle preventing it. Seliger proposed the legislation in response to concern from parents and educators over the validity of the state exams as a measure of students’ academic achievement.

To earn a diploma under the alternate route, a student must be cleared by a panel made up of teachers, counselors, and parents, who consider factors like grades, college entrance exam scores, and attendance.

During the legislative session earlier this year, the Texas Association of Business criticized the measure, saying it would lead to students being unprepared for careers or higher education.

The association’s study found that in the surveyed districts, 96 percent of the schools granted more than half of the exemptions allowed under the law. Twenty-three schools granted all requests for graduation.

“This is way beyond just giving a pass to someone who has a testing problem; this is letting the floodgates open and letting everybody through whether they’re proficient or not,” said Sandy Kress, a consultant at the George W. Bush Institute, who joined Hammond at the press conference.

Hammond said he hopes the Legislature does not extend the measure in the 2017 legislative session and that he would like to see tests that better indicate college readiness.

Later on Thursday, Theresa Treviño, president of Texans Advocating For Meaningful Student Assessment, a parent organization that led the push for the legislation during the session, issued a statement questioning the business group’s conclusions.

The study’s assumption that the state exams should be the sole measure of whether a student should graduate is a fallacy, Treviño said.

“There has been extensive testimony by parents, educators, students, and testing experts showing that the current cohort of tests is not an appropriate measure for high school graduation,” she said. “Finally, we would expect to see a high percentage of students being approved by school committees. The reason is that these are students who have passed their classes and have met all of the other requirements to qualify under SB149 to appeal to a committee.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comment from, a parent advocacy group.

Author:  – The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, pol itics, government and statewide issues.

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