Although the 86th session of the Texas Legislature did not lead to passage of New Voices legislation, advocates of student press rights, brought about many firsts through their efforts. For the first time, bills were filed in the House and the Senate.. New Voices advocates met with key lawmakers during a lobby day at the Texas Capitol. Students attracted other scholastic journalists to get involved by leading informational sessions at conventions across the state. And most importantly, New Voices legislation passed out of the House Public Education Committee in a 12-0 vote, garnering bipartisan support. Together, we’ve made more progress toward establishing clear scholastic press protections than Texas has ever seen before.
When the clock ran out for bills to pass out of the Legislature in May, Ultimately, the bills died House Bill 2244 got stuck in the Calendars Committee, which is in charge of scheduling bills for floor action. Senate Bill 514 had a hearing in the Senate Education Committee, but the bill died when the committee failed to bring it up for a vote.
Although we didn’t meet our ultimate goal, the progress we made over the last year bodes well for the next legislative session. With thoughtful leadership and continued advocacy we are fully confident that the Texas Legislature will eventually pass New Voices legislation. That leadership needs ambition, vision and drive. They must hold themselves and each other accountable and be able to rally a coalition of advocates across the state. No group of individuals is more capable of embodying and accomplishing these things than New Voices’ incoming board of officers.
In order for New Voices to be successful, its leadership must represent the people its legislation protects. After we graduated from high school, we decided it was time to pass the torch to a new set of leaders who are still enrolled in high school.
In our work with Mylo, David, Haley and Marisa thus far, we are incredibly encouraged by their ideas and passion. They make us excited for the future of the organization, and hopeful that this movement will continue until we ultimately pass a New Voices law in Texas. As they take over, we believe New Voices Texas is in excellent hands.
Bethany Bissell and Neha Madhira
New Voices Texas, 2018-2019