By State Senator Robert S. Nichols, Texas Senate District 3
The Legislature has ended its first week of session. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Senate has decided to recess until January 26th. However, we will still be working hard in the meantime on legislation for Senate District 3.
Here are five things happening around your state:
- The Texas Legislature begins the 87th Legislative Session
This week, the 87th legislature gaveled in for session. Though opening day looked a bit different than usual, with fewer guests in the gallery, on the floor, and throughout the building, we’re excited to start the important work on behalf of Senate District 3.
The Texas Senate also decided on the rules that will govern the chamber for at least the first 60 days. There are several changes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 precautions include mandatory testing for anyone going onto the floor of the senate or to a committee hearing and twice weekly testing for all staff. The Senate also changed the number of votes required to bring a bill up for a vote on the floor. Instead of requiring 3/5ths of the membership to bring a bill up, the body will now require 5/9ths of the members to vote to bring up a bill.
- Texas was the top corporate move destination in 2020
Texas ranked number one in corporate relocations last year, according to Allied Van Lines, a major moving firm. Houston and Austin were the top two cities in Texas that businesses were relocating to. The top locations businesses were coming from were California, Chicago, Phoenix, and Washington, DC. Some major companies that recently moved their headquarters to Texas include Oracle, Hewlett Packard, and CBRE. Texas’ business-friendly climate is one reason many companies cited for their moves and I hope to see that continue.
- Timeline for Session
As the Texas Constitution requires, the legislature has convened for the next 140 days. The reason we meet every other year is because the framers of our state constitution envisioned a citizen legislature that could not infringe too much on citizens’ lives by meeting more frequently. Though many years have passed since our founding, our framers vision lives on.
Several provisions in our state constitution are related to ensuring we value the time we are given to legislate and focus our attention on only the most pressing issues. One such provision is that no legislation can be fully passed in the first 60 days of session. The only exception is if the Governor designates a specific bill as emergency legislation. If there’s a piece of legislation you feel strongly about, please be sure to contact us. Our office phone number is (512) 463-0103.
Here are some important dates to keep in mind as we move through session:
- March 12th – This is the last day bills can be filed in the House and Senate.
- May 31st – This is the last day of regular session, which also happens to be Memorial Day.
- June 20th – This is the last day the Governor can sign or veto bills passed during the regular legislative session.
- Vaccine Hubs and vaccine rollout
The Department of State Health Services has announced 28 vaccination hubs that are meant to streamline a large-scale vaccination effort currently being undertaken by the state. These vaccination hubs will have the capability to vaccinate 100,000 people. The state is set to receive almost 200,000 doses of the vaccine. A little over 158,000 doses of the vaccine will go to these hubs, the other roughly 38,000 doses will go to providers across the state. Currently, the hubs are prioritizing frontline healthcare workers, people who are 65 and older, and those with certain health conditions. The state of Texas has vaccinated more people than any other state in the nation and will begin receiving a larger allotment of doses starting in February. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine provider information please visit https://tdem.texas.gov/covid-19/.
- Comptroller announces the Biennial Revenue Estimate
The Comptroller has released his Biennial Revenue Estimate. The BRE projects an estimate of the state’s revenue over the next two years. The BRE projected that the state will have $112.5 billion available for general-purpose spending. That’s down 0.4% from the last biennium. It also outlined the closing balance of the last two-year budget. While the coronavirus pandemic took a toll on our economy, the impact was not as severe as originally thought. The ending balance for the 2020-2021 balance will be close to a negative $1 billion.