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Texas Lawmakers Tackle Public Education, Drones

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:12 PM CDT

Another busy day for lawmakers at the Texas State Capitol, as public education once again takes front and center. Public school accountability, assessment, and curriculum requirements: three hot topics all wrapped into HB 5. Lawmakers are expected to give it a second reading on Tuesday, with 165 amendments filed, just some of the changes to public education lawmakers will address.

In Tuesday, they're scheduled to hear around two dozen bills related to public education. Senate Bill 1109 would suspend accountability ratings in public schools during the 2012-13 school year, in addition to the 2011-12 school year.

Another bill, Senate Bill 1365, would require multiple versions of an exam for credit for a grade level or subject each time the test is given in one year. It would also let some students in grades six or above get out of taking an end of course assessment in a subject if they score in the 90th percentile on the exam. Lawmakers will also look at several bills related to charters. The hearing starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Capitol.

Another hot topic lawmakers are expected to tackle Tuesday: drones. Ten thousand drones in the skies by 2020: that's the prediction by the Federal Aviation Administration this week. Now one Texas lawmaker is trying to put a limit on just how much surveillance there can be.

House Bill 912 from Rep. Lance Gooden would make it a Class C misdemeanor to take video or photos of private property with an unmanned aerial vehicle without the owner's consent. It would also be illegal to have, display, or distribute any photo or video the drone captured. Law enforcement would get a pass if they have a warrant and are going after a suspect. There's also an exemption for property within 25 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

"These days with all the technology it seems to get easier and easier to invade people's privacy, so there should be measures to stop that," said Mike Skiffington of Austin.

"If it's illegal, yes, look into it, but if it's just an everyday person that doesn't really have a crazy background, don't poke into my life," said Richard Lee Clinton, of Austin.

The FAA is expected to release rules governing the commercial usage of drones by mid- 2014.

If approved, the bills would take effect September 1.
By Adam Bennett
Texas Lawmakers Tackle Public Education, Drones

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