The April 12 Daily Texan Opinion piece posed the following question to me and my Senate colleagues who filibustered Senate Bill 86: "Where's the deliberation?"
As the Daily Texan accurately reported, I filibustered SB 86, because it was amended in the waning hours of the 78th Regular Session to cap the number of freshmen admitted to Texas public universities under the so-called Top 10 Percent Law. I objected because of my conviction that such a major policy shift deserved careful deliberation, which had not happened.
As chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education and co-sponsor of the legislation that established the Top 10 Percent Law, I am eager to debate this issue.
Immediately after the filibuster of SB 86 in June, 2003, Governor Rick Perry called three consecutive special sessions to take up the issue of congressional redistricting, which resulted in a bitter political fight that dominated the Legislature's attention until October, 2003.
It was only then that Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst was able to consider what issues the Senate would study during the abbreviated 78th Interim. On January 21, 2004, the Lieutenant Governor issued the following charge to the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education:
Study the impact of admissions policies on enrollment in Texas public institutions and make recommendations for improving the admissions procedures, as necessary. The study should include, but not be limited to, a review of recent court decisions on college admissions policies, and an evaluation of the impact of the "Top 10 %" law on college admissions.
Since that time, my staff and I have worked to identify stakeholders and organize hearings to hear invited and public testimony on admissions, including the Top 10 Percent Law, as well as the seven other important issues the subcommittee was charged with studying.
We began hearings in March and will continue through July. Specifically, we will hear testimony on admissions and the Top 10 Percent Law on April 29 and June 24. The June 24 hearing will include public testimony, and I would encourage any student, administrator, staff member or alum of UT, to attend and testify before the subcommittee on that date. The subcommittee will submit a report with recommendations to the full Senate in time for 79th Regular Session, which begins in January, 2005.
Therefore, to answer the Daily Texan's question, the deliberation is well under way.