The Freedom to Learn, The Freedom to Teach

Bohac Files Legislation Aimed at Helping Both Students and Teachers

AUSTIN—State Representative Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) filed two education bills today, one aimed at helping families afford the necessary school supplies that students need to excel in the classroom and the other at protecting teachers from classroom violence. Both are intended to allow students and teachers the freedom to do their best in the classroom.

School Supply Bill

House Bill 528 would add school supplies and backpacks to the list of items exempt from sales tax during the annual Sales Tax Holiday. Under current law, most clothing and footwear priced at less than $100 are tax-free during the first weekend in August of each year. Rep. Bohac’s bill would expand this to cover the cost of classroom items that children are required to have - supplies that many Texas families struggle to afford each school year.

“It’s time we add backpacks and school supplies to the Sales Tax Holiday,” Bohac said. “Texas families deserve a tax break to help out with the cost of items kids are required to have for the classroom, and school supplies are part and parcel to obtaining a quality education.”

The supply list would include all of the required basics, from spiral notebooks and writing instruments to backpacks and calculators. When a student prepares for a new school year, the costs of these supplies coupled with new clothes and shoes can get very expensive.

“This is a much-needed and well-deserved tax break for hard-working Texas families,” Bohac said. “It lets people keep more dollars in their pockets for their families’ priorities and makes it easier for students to have the resources they need to learn.”

According the Texas Comptroller, the August 2004 Sales Tax Holiday saved Texans more than $46 million. Since the first Sales Tax Holiday in August 1999, Texans have saved an estimated $193.5 million in sales tax, including $152.7 million in state sales tax and $40.8 million in local sales taxes. Bohac’s bill would save Texas families even more.

Bohac has consistently shown a commitment to helping students get the tools they need to succeed. In addition to supporting the Spring Branch Council of PTA’s School Supply Fund, he also founded the annual Bohac Textbook Scholarship, which is awarded to five college-bound students each year to help offset the cost of college textbooks.

Teacher Protection Bill

To address the problem of violence against school teachers, Rep. Bohac also filed House Bill 527 to make the minimum punishment for assaulting a teacher or other school employee at least 10 days in an age-appropriate jail. This Teacher Protection Bill enhances the penalties for assaulting an employee of a public or private school while the employee is engaged in performing their duties at school or in retaliation for doing their job when off campus.

Similar penalty enhancements already exist under current law for other public servants. Teachers will now join the ranks of police, firefighters, first responders and elected officials who serve our communities and are afforded special protection under the law.

“This will send a clear message that violence again teachers and other school employees will not be tolerated,” Bohac said. “Teachers perform one of the most important and challenging jobs in our community, and they do not need to carry the extra burden of fearing for their safety.”

Rep. Bohac began looking into this problem having heard personally from a principal in his district who suffered devastating health consequences after being knocked down by a student. Under HB 527, even if a student was granted community supervision for their actions, he or she would still have to serve at least 10 days confinement in an age-appropriate jail.

“When faced with the certainty of going to jail, delinquent students will think twice before acting out in violence against those who are there to help them,” Bohac continued. “I believe teachers deserve the same protection under the law that is afforded to other public servants.”

Both HB 527 and HB 528 are part of Rep. Bohac's commitment to improve education. During the 78th Legislative session in 2003, Bohac helped create the Classroom Supply Reimbursement Program to reimburse teachers who spend their own money to provide school supplies for the classroom. He also authored legislation to restore the Pledge of Allegiance to the school day and helped pass new protections for teachers and other school professionals against frivolous lawsuits.

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