House Bill 1000 which would create a new university and medical school in South Texas passed the Texas House of Representatives by a vote of 149-0 Tuesday, sending it to a third and final reading which is expected possibly Wednesday.
State Rep. Rene Oliveira, the bill's primary author said that the unanimous vote - House Speaker Joe Straus, in keeping with standard practice as the House presiding officer, did not vote - underscores the bill's importance. H.B. 1000 was the first bill of the regular House calendar to be heard this session.
"Members of the House are recognizing that more educational opportunities and improved medical care in South Texas are key to the state's economic power," said Oliveira. "It's also a recognition that providing new opportunities for Hispanic students and their families means a vibrant future for Texas. "
After a third reading of the bill, it will be sent to the Senate where it must be considered in committee before being considered by the full Senate for approval.
Because H.B. 1000 was amended on the House Floor Tuesday to include a provision that will establish uniform fees for the new institution, it differs from S.B. 24 which lacks the fee amendment, and has been received by the House. While very close in content, for legislative purposes, House Bill 1000 and SB 24 are not the same bill. One of them must work its way through both chambers, with at least a two-thirds vote, in order to become law.
"We still have some procedural hurdles to clear, but we have been moving quickly and positively through the process. House and Senate members in both parties have stepped up to the plate to do the right thing," said Oliveira.