HOUSTON — The Harris County Department of Education is the asexual platypus of government entities.

That name sounds as if it belongs to a government agency, but it’s really a fictitious business name for the County School Trustees of Harris County, which is like a school board, except that it oversees no public schools and is responsible for no students, and things have been that way for 50 years.

What this thing can do is tax.

It taxes the people of Houston and surrounding communities some $18 million a year. By law, it’s supposed to distribute that money to the independent school districts in the area, but doesn’t.  That’s just one of many reasons to close the thing down, but it was one of the few reasons to get much interest Tuesday night from members of the Public Education Committee of the state House, who were considering a bill by Rep. Debbie Riddle to dissolve it and transfer its few functions to the appropriate agencies, redirecting its taxes directly to school districts.