My appointment as the Chairman of the Texas House Higher Education Committee has provided me with a great opportunity to address education policies that will benefit our students and our state. Earlier this month House Bill 17 passed out of the Texas House of Representatives. House Bill 17 is also known has the 'Texas Higher Education Innovation Accelerator' and this bill seeks to increase the number of Texans with postsecondary degrees and credentials. I'm proud to be the author of this legislation.

The Innovation Accelerator is a public-private collaboration that will establish a progressive network of leading colleges and universities to develop, evaluate and rapidly scale innovations in educational delivery that will lead to expanded educational and economic opportunities for all Texans. This effort will include four-year and two-year colleges and universities that are committed to accelerating innovation, expanding opportunity, and advancing quality in educational delivery.

Higher Education institutions that wish to participate in the accelerator must establish and submit a new and creative plan, which must summarize proposed innovative educational programs, including anticipated demographic data for served students, and a detailed explanation of anticipated changes to traditional educational programs.

House Bill 17 aligns with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's 60x30TX strategic plan to have 60% of the 25 to 34-year-old Texas population hold a certificate or degree by the year 2030. Higher education institutions are trying to adjust to the growing non-traditional student demographic in Texas. This bill will help focus on low income and historically under-represented student populations, and advancement of state goals for improving access, degree attainment, and labor market outcomes.