August 1, 2020      10:30 AM
A realistic view of what a legislative session could look like during a pandemic
After lengthy conversations with insiders, Texas Capitol veteran Jon Fisher takes an in-depth look at what a session might really be like come January: Professional advocates whose stock-in-trade is hard work and research may have the upper hand while those who rely on entertainment may be at a distinct disadvantage
One thing on which
everyone agrees is that anyone planning to work the 87th Legislature
needs to be preparing for an entirely different environment.
What will it actually look like?
Of course, it is too soon
to know for sure, but we recently asked some experienced veterans to help us understand
how this could really unfold. What happens in the future, naturally, is based
on ever-changing conditions. Remember, the Texas Capitol is not
even open right now.
Speculation began in
earnest when Texas House parliamentarians released a memo on July
16 outlining how interim studies could proceed under House rules without formal
public hearings. That will not be the issue in January, when both chambers will
have the chance to rewrite their rules.
Texas House leadership is currently
surveying members to determine what the existing membership believes would be
the best way to handle business next session. Those results are not in yet.
House sources are telling
us that they are preparing for a hugely different environment and that those who
have incorporated flexibility and innovation into their lobbying plans will
have the advantage.
There are a few common
themes in those preparations.
By Jon Fisher