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Texas House Approves Bill That Would Restrict Board of Regents’ Powers

A bill that would restrict some powers of the University of Texas Board of Regents won tentative approval in the Texas House of Representatives on Monday, The Texas Tribune reported. The measure, SB 15, which one lawmaker dubbed the “higher-ed governance clean up bill,” comes amid a history of friction between the regents and the president of the flagship campus at Austin, William C. Powers Jr., as well as clashes between the board and the Legislature.

SB 15 would establish that the regents cannot terminate a university president without a recommendation to do so from the system’s chancellor, and that if a chancellor does make such a recommendation, the board is not required to heed it. The measure would also stipulate that regents who are appointed when the Legislature is not in session could not vote on budgetary or personnel matters until they have appeared before the Senate Nominations Committee. Regents would also be required to attend ethics training before being allowed to vote on budgetary or personnel matters.

An earlier version of the measure has already cleared the Senate. The bill, as amended in the House, still faces a third reading in that chamber. If it passes that reading, the Senate could either accept the House’s changes or request a conference committee on the bill.

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