This Week in Texas: March 27, 2013

Posted March 27, 2013 in The Mignon Memo

Yesterday, the Texas House gave preliminary approval to House Bill 5, a bill designed to address concerns regarding high school graduation requirements and standardized testing.   The legislation reduces the number of end-of-course exams needed for graduation from high school from 15 to 5.  The required tests would be algebra, biology, U.S. history and 10th-grade reading and writing.  The bill also replaces the current “4×4” graduation plan — four years of English, math, science and social studies — with several different plans to achieve a diploma.  After a vote on third reading today, House Bill 5 moves to the Texas Senate.

Governor Rick Perry announced two new hires for the Office of the Governor.  MacGregor Stephenson was named deputy chief of staff and Rich Parsons was named deputy director of communications.  Stephenson previously served as assistant commissioner for workforce, academic affairs and research for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.   Parsons previously served as communications director for the Texas Secretary of State as well as press secretary to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.  He was also a
reporter for KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas.

Gov. Rick Perry has appointed Victor Vandergriff of Arlington and reappointed Jeff Austin III of Tyler to the Texas Transportation Commission for terms to expire Feb. 1, 2019. The commission oversees the Texas Department of Transportation.  Vandergriff  is currently the chairman of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board, a position he has held since his appointment in November 2009.  Austin is vice chairman of Austin Bank Texas N.A. in Jacksonville.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has approved the creation of a $91 million influenza-vaccines manufacturing
facility in a joint venture between the Texas A&M University System and GlaxoSmithKline.  The facility will anchor the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing.