House passes bill that would limit boards of regents in Texas


A bill that would limit the responsibilities and power of higher education governing boards in Texas passed in the house Tuesday afternoon.

The bill passed with 134 votes for and 11 votes against it. Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, sponsored the bill and said it will provide clarity on the power and role of university governing boards. The bill will now make its way to Gov. Rick Perry's desk, where the governor can approve or veto it. Perry appoints all members to public university governing boards. 

If Perry vetoes the bill, a two-thirds majority in both the house and senate will be required to pass the bill. The bill passed 29-2 in the Texas Senate. It has also received resolutions supporting it from UT's Student Government and Senate of College Councils.

The bill follows a semester of controversies surrounding the UT System's Board of Regents, the governing board for all UT schools. In February, the Texas Legislature put the board on the chopping block for attempting to micromanage UT-Austin President William Powers Jr. The Legislature, specifically Lt. Gov. David. Dewhurst, praised Powers and his work at UT. 

In the following days, the Legislature launched the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency to investigate accusations that the board was micromanaging Powers. Meanwhile, State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, authored the bill that limits higher education governing boards to the responsibilities they are specifically granted.

Branch, who presented the bill to the House on Tuesday, said the bill was the result of work from that committee.

"This is the result of two years of work on the joint oversight committee," Branch said. "It will allow us to have clarity for what the role of our Board of Regents are as we move forward."