BLOG: CATCH UP ON WHAT'S HAPPENED SO FAR IN THE 87TH TEXAS LEGISLATURE
The start of the 87th Legislative Session for the Texas House of Representatives began on January 12th, 2021, where 82 Republican members of the Caucus were welcomed back to the Capitol. On the opening day of session, the House’s first order of business was to elect a new Speaker of the House, Republican State Representative Dade Phelan of Beaumont.
The 87th Texas Legislative Session is unique in the fact that it began in the midst of a global pandemic. After electing Speaker Phelan, the House had to adopt rules and COVID-19 safety protocols in order to provide reliable safeguards to keep the session moving forward. These measures include parameters for quarantined members to participate in debates, allowing virtual testimony from invited witnesses and the creation of a House Public Comment portal for Texans to submit input and suggestions on various bills going before a chosen committee.
In February, Speaker Phelan released committee assignments for the 87th Legislature. The makeup consists of 34 standing committees. All of those committees and information about hearings are available at house.texas.gov.
On February 1st, Governor Greg Abbott delivered his 2021 State of the State Address. Governor Abbott tasked the House and Senate with five emergency action items (now six after he added one in response to the winter storm) which allows the legislature to fast-track bills filed to address these emergency items. These items include:
expanding broadband internet access,
cracking down on governments that aim to “defund the police,”
ensuring election integrity,
reforming the bail system;
providing civil liability protections for businesses that followed safety protocols during the pandemic; and,
reforming the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
On February 25th and 26th, the Texas Legislature held a Joint Hearing in response to the historical winter storm that occurred the week prior. The State Affairs and Energy Resources Committees heard 25 hours of testimony from witnesses including ERCOT, the Public Utilities Commission, electricity providers and generators, and other stakeholders regarding the widespan power outages across the state. Click here to watch Day 1 and Day 2 of the hearings.
With committees organized and bills beginning to be referred to those committees, the pace of the Texas House is picking up speed. To make sure you don’t miss a minute, be sure to watch the House’s proceedings live via the Video-Audio section of the Texas House website and check the archives to watch committee hearings you may have missed.