Things are ramping up at the Capitol. The Governor gives his State of the State February 1 at 7 p.m., carried live on Nexstar broadcasting stations, over 2,000 bills have been filed, and House committee assignments loom over the horizon.
The Senate has begun Redistricting hearings with different regional focuses each day. Here is a schedule. Witnesses are encouraged to register and bear testimony. Census Bureau official Kathleen Styles announced that census numbers for the US House and Electoral College are expected to be released April 30, although some regionally specific data collection might lag behind that. The earlier-than-anticipated release date suggests that Redistricting could be completed during the regular session minimizing the need to go into a special summer session.
We’ve got plenty of good news about Covid-19. Most notably, statewide hospitalizations are down approximately 9.6% over the past two weeks, aided by Texas’ increase in vaccination hubs. By Thursday, Texas might see the Texas National Guard distributing Covid-19 vaccines at mobile vaccination clinics in rural areas around the state. About 230 of the state’s 254 counties have distributed vaccines, and the Department of State Health Services reports over 1.37 million individuals have received the first dose of the vaccine. As vaccine production increases, expect a 16% boost in vaccines over the coming weeks. The Austin area anticipates its fourth round of 12,000 doses this week. The state expects 332,750 first doses from the federal government this week. Across the country, the Department of Health and Human Services will increase allocations to states to a minimum of 10 million doses weekly. Lastly, Texas has an estimated 1.845 million recovered Covid-19 patients, or close to a 92.8% recovery rate.
In a comprehensive look at the House and Senate, both chambers have a number of new members. In the House, there are 16 freshmen, excluding Mike Schofield (who represents House district 132 and served in the 84th and 85th legislative sessions). The 16 new members are: Liz Campos (D – 119), Jeff Cason (R – 92), David Cook (R – 96), Jasmine Crockett (D – 100), Jake Ellzey (R – 10), Gary Gates (R-28), Lacey Hull (R – 138), Jacey Jetton (R – 26), Ann Johnson (D – 134), Penny Morales Shaw (D – 148), Eddie Morales (D – 74), Claudia Ordaz Perez (D – 76), Glenn Rogers (R – 60), Bryan Slaton (R – 2), Shelby Slawson (D – 59), and Cody Vasut (R – 25). Please note that Gary Gates is recorded having served in the 86th legislative session to serve out the unexpired term of John Zerwas. The Senate has four new members. They are: Drew Springer (R – 30), Roland Gutierrez (D – 19), César Blanco (D – 29), and Sarah Eckhart (D – 14). Senator Eckhart succeeds the unexpired term of Senator Watson. Senator Blanco previously served House district 76 for the 84th-86th legislative sessions. Senator Gutierrez previously served House district 119 for the 80th-86th legislative sessions. Senator Springer previously served House district 68 for the 83rd-86th legislative sessions. He was elected to the House for the 87th legislative session but was never sworn. House district 68 will elect its representative in a special runoff election on a date to be announced by the Governor.
To wrap up, the legislature has adjourned until February 9th, and we anticipate that House Committees will be announced shortly thereafter. At that point, we’ll certainly have a better landscape as to who is where.
For more information on bills filed and legislative details visit http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/
Until next week,
Lara Laneri Keel
President, LLK LLC.