Covid Vacines are on the way!!!!
Also, by this weekend, there will be a prohibition on contributions to Texas Legislators and other elected officials until after the next Legislation Session. This week, there were over 40 fundraisers in Austin!
Now, we focus on the 87th Legislative Session, set to begin on January 12th and will meet for 140 days. Although the rules for meeting, hearings and access to the Capitol are unclear at this time, they are being studied. The few interim hearings held have been virtual with only members and staff present, with invited testimony done via technology. On opening day each Chamber of the Legislature will meet to pass their respective rules for how we will all operate during Covid. Stay tuned for more information on this.
What we do know about the Upcoming Legislative Session…
Prefiling of bills began in November.
To date, 1047 bills have been pre-filed. On healthcare, so far, they mostly deal with Medicaid Expansion, Telemedicine and Telehealth. With 7,000 bills normally filed during a Legislative Session, the anticipation by lawmakers is that less bills will be considered than past Sessions… Members can file as many bills as they would like. But the reality of what will be heard and passed will be as different as our current Covid-world. Just expect the unexpected!
The Budget is technically the only bill that must be passed by the Legislature. That process has begun. Every State Agency is filing their Legislative Appropriations Requests (LARs), with the Legislative Budget Board (LBB). This board will draft the first round of the State Budget in January to begin the decision-making on agency “wish lists” and the State of Texas’ goals for the next two-year budget cycle. Most agencies have been asked to file a budget 5% below their current budgets.
Interestingly, the State’s upcoming budget outlook has been revisited, and the future looks much brighter than it did mid-summer. Comptroller Glenn Hegar, the state’s budget guru, announced that his revenue outlook – while down – is in a more positive place. His official projection will be out in a few weeks.
As we know from 2020 – anything can happen. But Texas is open for Business. And we continue the “Texas Miracle” Governor Perry first laid out when getting major employers to move their headquarters to Texas. Governor Abbott is doing the same during this Pandemic with Tesla and Hewlett Packard both recently announcing their plans to move their headquarters to Texas from California.
For more information on bills filed, hearing testimony and legislative info, please go to www.capitol.state.tx.us.
All the Best!
Lara Keel, President, LLK LLC.