After a week-long official hiatus, tomorrow the Texas 87th Legislature is ready to roll.
Both Chambers have adopted their Covid rules.
In the House, one representative has already tested positive for COVID-19 and others are in isolation. The House rules passed in HB 2 require masks, expand remote voting to the adjoining rooms, and permit committee members to appear virtually on the condition that two members remain physically in the hearing room. However, testing is not required, virtual testimony is by invitation only, and all committee members must be physically present to vote bills out of committee.
On the other side of the building, the Senate does require a negative test to enter the chamber or committee hearing room each day, masks must be worn on the floor, and virtual public hearings on redistricting will begin. No other committees may hear virtual testimony. With one-fifth the number of members as the House, the Senate does not require its members to wear masks when seated alone at their desks as their desks are already “socially distant”.
And while they were away, they were still busy behind the scenes…
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced Senate Committees and Committee Chairs. To view the list you can go to www.ltgov.texas.gov
On the House side, House members have been busy filling out their “Pref Cards” for their desired committee appointments for the Session. From there the Speakers Office will be quite busy working on Committee Assignments that will determine the fate of numerous issues that will be considered, or that won’t.
Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1 – The state budget bill was also filed late last week. The bills were very similar, which means there is not much they disagree on at this point. Some predict that this may create a lesser debate than usual. This is potentially another example of the restrictions Covid is having on the legislative process. For a link to those budget bills you can go to lbb.state.tx.us/Legislative_Session.aspx
What to expect this week?
Both the House and Senate will go into Session tomorrow.
The Senate will begin their Redistricting Hearings from tomorrow through the next month. The House will convene on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and is expected to adjourn until the following Tuesday while Committee Appointments are being worked out.
Looking forward, on the Executive side of Government, the Governor will deliver his “State of the State” speech on February 1 at 7 pm. This is where he will lay out his agenda for the Session and announce if he will declare any “Emergency Items” that the legislature can consider early and not waiting until the 60th day, as is required.
Have a great week all! We will be in touch!
Lara Laneri Keel
President, LLK LLC