When the Texas Legislature convenes in January, lawmakers will do so in the midst of a pandemic, and a struggling economy.
“We are going to see budget problems and tough decisions. On the other hand, you know, when the budget is tight, the people who are in charge can just tell everybody no, so in a way, it is easier to write a budget in a bad year,” said Dallas Morning News Bureau Chief Robert Garrett.
Enrique Marquez, the transition spokesperson for Presumptive House Speaker Dade Phelan said in a statement, “The Legislature will address the severe economic effects caused by COVID-19 during the upcoming session. The Texas House stands ready, and will fulfill its constitutional requirement to pass a balanced budget. Rep. Phelan is focused on keeping the state’s economy healthy and getting Texas back to work.”
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Lawmakers will also be meeting under very different circumstances, with COVID-19. Phelan put together a working group to come up with recommendations for safety protocols, and a Senior Advisor for the Lieutenant Governor’s office said Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Phelan have been discussing procedures and protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Garrett expects changes.
"I think the other thing is to just watch COVID-19 and how it totally transforms the legislative process. Lobbyists may not be allowed in the building, we may hardly be allowed in the building, the public may have to register three days in advance to testify before a committee, so I’m looking for just a completely different experience,” Garrett added.