The Texas 87th is about a month into its 140-day session, and the Governor has outlined five priorities to receive emergency action in his State of the State address Monday evening. Texas continues to deliver good news about the COVID-19 vaccination effort. House committee assignments have just been announced ahead of the House and Senate reconvening February 9th. The Honorable Tom Craddick of Midland County and the Honorable Senfronia Thompson of Harris County are recognized as Deans of the Texas House of Representatives. The Honorable Joseph E. Moody of El Paso County has been appointed as the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Texas House of Representatives.
At the time of Governor Abbott’s State of the State, 1690 bills have been filed in the House and 591 in the Senate. Certainly, there are many focusing on the Governor’s top five priorities. The items earning emergency action this session are: first, expanding broadband internet access across the state; second, limiting the ability of cities to cut police force budgets; third, enacting laws to offer protection from lawsuits for entities and persons operating safely during the COVID-19 crisis; fourth, limiting bail for those accused and/or previously convicted of violent crimes; and, fifth, improving election integrity. Although some issues arose from the events of this past year, this isn’t the first swing at passing bail reform legislation. Last session, similar legislation passed in the House but died in the Senate. In the wake of the pandemic, the Governor’s renewed focus on expanding access to the internet and maintaining minimal regulations on businesses can ensure a return to economic normalcy and opportunity.
These emergency items mean that the legislature can now start hearing bills related to these topics before the 60-day deadline. What this means is that the House has committees and the Senate has committees and they can now start hearing legislation related to emergency items. Get ready!
The good news keeps rolling out with thousands of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. In the first week of February, Texas received 520,425 doses to distribute. The state approaches 2 million recovered patients of the virus, and nearly 8.5% of Texans eligible to receive the vaccine (16 and older, in the 1A and 1B groups) have received at least one dose. There are nearly 530,000 fully vaccinated individuals. Further, CVS pharmacies in Texas will begin distributions to those eligible at 70 locations by February 11. Walgreens and Wal-Mart begin their vaccine distributions shortly after, as federal vaccine programs increase the weekly doses disbursed to states to approximately 10.5 million in the coming weeks. Finally, as the Texas Division of Emergency Management released criteria for monoclonal antibody infusion, Texas’ own State Mobile Vaccine Pilot Program continues to develop to reinforce the vaccination effort in rural parts of the state.
To wrap up, this website shows all House committee assignments for the Texas 87th. You can find Governor Abbott’s proclamations (including the most recent in response to drought conditions) here. For updates on bill filings, hearings, and other such news relating to the legislature, take a look here.
Things are about to move very quickly, and we will keep you updated.
All the best,
Lara Laneri Keel
President, LLK LLC.