December 2, 2020

For Immediate Release
December 2, 2020

(Frisco, TX) – Representative Jared Patterson has filed HB 538 and HB 539, two bills that differ in subject but share a similar purpose – providing local governments with greater flexibility, particularly during a pandemic. Both pieces of legislation were originally filed during the 2019 legislative session and would have been helpful in response to COVID-19 had they passed.

Specifically, HB 538 would lift the moratorium on full-time online programming for Texas students and remove the three online classroom enrollment limit. Currently, there are only six Virtual School Network programs allowed in the state of Texas. “The best environment for Texas students is to be in a classroom. However, had school districts been given the opportunity to expand online educational programming prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, they may have been in a better position to roll out eLearning. This year has highlighted how advantageous and important it would be for schools to have more flexibility with an online presence,” stated Rep. Patterson.

In the same vein, HB 539 would provide municipalities and economic development corporations more flexibility around spending taxpayer dollars. If approved by local voters, this action would allow cities the opportunity to dip into economic development tax revenues for core government functions, like public safety and general infrastructure. “As a former city councilman, I know that public safety and general infrastructure are some of the largest and most important budget items for any municipality. The entire state of Texas is facing a financial crisis due to the impact of COVID-19 and corresponding shutdowns, and these dollars should be available to assist in these areas.”

It is critical that options be made accessible and taxpayer dollars be put to good use as Texans are facing these unprecedented challenges. These two pieces of legislation would provide greater flexibility to cities and school districts alike to meet these challenges head on. Rep. Patterson looks forward to working on these and other pieces of legislation this session.

Jared Patterson represents House District 106, which encompasses the eastern portion of Denton County. During the 86th Legislative Session, Patterson authored and passed initiatives in policy areas such as transportation, education, property taxes, as well as eliminated unnecessary and burdensome government regulations. Patterson serves on the House Committees on Business & Industry, Urban Affairs, and Resolutions Calendars. He also serves on the House Interim Study Committee on Aggregate Production Operations, and the Texas Cybersecurity Council. His family resides in Frisco.