Texas Legislative News: Feb. 1, 2021

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Lawmakers returned to the Texas Capitol in the third week of the legislative session, but only just long enough to quickly adjourn again until Feb. 9. Ordinarily at this time, the House and Senate would each gather briefly on the floor a few days a week to pass honorary resolutions, and then use the rest of their time in Austin to meet privately with constituents, advocates, lobbyists, and other state officials. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, lawmakers are likely to gather less often until they begin to consider legislation in committees and on the floor.

The first 30 days of a regular legislative session are used primarily to introduce bills and resolutions, according to the Texas Constitution. During this time, lawmakers are unable to cast votes on any bills except for either emergency spending bills proposed by legislators or other emergency items indicated by the governor. In the succeeding 30 days, lawmakers may hold hearings to consider bills, but floor consideration is allowed only for emergency matters.

State of the State

At 7 p.m. CT, tonight, Feb. 1, Gov. Greg Abbott will give his State of the State address. The speech is an opportunity for the governor to tout Texas success stories, indicate some of the challenges facing the state, lay out his list of policy priorities for the session, and release the list of emergency items that lawmakers can take up for consideration immediately. The speech is typically given at the State Capitol with an audience consisting of the House, Senate, and Texas Supreme Court.

In another example of COVID-19 reshaping the session, this year’s address will be limited to 30 minutes and will be conducted outside of the Capitol with no in-person audience. The event will be broadcast live over television stations across the state. See the full list of stations.

Disability Policy Academy on COVID-19

Our next Disability Policy Academy will take place at 2 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Feb. 16. The event, “DD Experience in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Developing Responsive Public Policy,” will feature a conversation with renowned infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Hotez, a professor of pediatrics and molecular virology at Baylor College of Medicine, and Dr. Emily Hotez, assistant professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The father-daughter team will discuss COVID-19 and disabilities and share information on a paper they recently wrote on the topic.

This conversation will be followed by a presentation on stories and data collected through TCDD’s Texas COVID Stories campaign, which included two statewide surveys concerning the impacts of COVID-19 on self-advocates and family members of people with developmental disabilities. The academy will close with an overview of COVID-19 policies under consideration by the Texas Legislature and a Q&A session.

Registration Details
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021
Time: 2-3:30 p.m. CT
Register to attend [registration expired. Event has passed.]

Accommodations
Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) service will be provided. If you need other accommodations to participate, please contact Koren Vogel at koren.vogel@tcdd.texas.gov or 512-437-5416.

Stay Informed

To stay up to date regarding how disability-related issues are being addressed by the Legislature, subscribe to TCDD eNews. On our website, you can find legislative resources and video updates from TCDD Policy Director Scott Daigle on what’s happening at the Capitol. To receive additional notifications, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.