In a typical Texas Legislative Session over 6,000 proposed bills are filed before the deadline. This session’s filing deadline is March 12th. Early filing this session has been heavier than in years past with 1,355 prefilled bills as of January 8th.
Proposed Bills of Interest
HB 216 Ortega, Lina (D) / SB 43 Zaffirini, Judith (D) Relating to residential mortgage loans, including the financing of residential real estate purchases by means of a wrap mortgage loan. (This bill language has been filed by these two Legislators in each of the past two sessions with varying degrees of progress.)
Previously Reported Bills
The Texas Legislature meets for 140 days every other year. The 87th Legislative Session kicked off at noon January 12, 2021 and will adjourn sine die on May 31, 2021. First up was the election of a new Speaker of the House, Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) and adopted operating rules and protocols on how to operate during a pandemic.
The first 60 days of any legislative session are always restricted. As mentioned in the opening paragraph no new bills can be filed after that date, March 12, 2021 for this session. Also, no legislation can be passed during the first 60 days unless it is an appropriation or Governor declared emergency issue. The pandemic rules will also apply to the first 60 days of the session and will be reviewed later to make any needed changes.
Both chambers unanimously adopted their rules and both will require masks to be worn on the floor and in the gallery, but from there the differences begin. The Senate will require members and staff to get a daily negative COVID-19 test to enter the chamber or a committee hearing room. All visitors in the Senate gallery or a committee hearing must first receive a wristband proving negative coronavirus test result. This will be available in a tent outside the Capitol’s north entrance. The House’s 150 members will not require its members or visitors to be tested. House members can require daily rapid tests within their own offices.
At least one member, Rep. Deshotel has tested positive for COVID-19 just days after participating in the opening day activities on the House floor.
House members will be able to vote from secured laptops in the gallery and in rooms that immediately adjoin the chamber. House committees can constitute a quorum with two members present on a dais while others listen remotely. Testimony will be taken in person unless it is invited testimony, then it can be done remotely. An online portal for the public to submit written testimony online may also be used at the committee’s discretion.
Both chambers have now adjourned until Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 1 p.m. From there look for future updates each Monday.