This Week in Texas: December 2, 2020

Posted December 2, 2020 in The Mignon Memo

COVID-19 Vaccines Are Coming…but Not for AllTexas Gov. Greg Abbott announced COVID-19 guiding principles for Texas’ COVID-19 vaccine allocation process, which will serve as a foundation for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December.

Under the plan, health care workers are slated to get the vaccine first, including staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities, as well as people who work in emergency medical services and as home health care workers. Next in line are the second tier of health care workers that include staff in outpatient care offices, free-standing emergency rooms, urgent care centers, and community care pharmacies as well as public health workers who conduct COVID-19 tests, embalmers, medical examiners, and school nurses.Other groups that will be prioritized include frontline workers and people who are at a greater risk of complications or death if they contract the virus. 
Rules, Rules, Rules

Presumptive Speaker Dade Phelan has asked Representatives Ana Hernandez, Todd Hunter, Brooks Landgraf, and Joe Moody to solicit rules proposals from all of the members of the Texas House.With the assistance of the House Parliamentarians, these members will reach out to all of the House members to collect, organize, and review all of the members’ rules proposals for the upcoming 87th Texas Legislature. Members of the Texas House have been asked to submit their rules proposals to the House Parliamentarians by Friday, December 11th.

Texas Is on a Budget

On Monday, the Legislative Budget Board met to hear a report from Comptroller Glenn Hegar on state finances and adopt a constitutionally required cap on state spending in the coming two-year cycle, which begins Sept. 1, 2021.Hegar told lawmakers Monday that the budget forecast is better than he expected since his last projection. “The outlook for the current two-year budget is not nearly as dire as we feared in July, and the shortfall for the Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE) is likely to show that this biennium should be much more manageable,” While this is good news for lawmakers, Hegar tempered expectations by adding that state revenues are still down significantly compared to last year. The Comptroller will release a new BRE on January 11.

Session First Day Jitters

House Administration Chairman Charlie Geren has said it is likely that only members, essential staff, and some special guests will be allowed on the House floor on the opening day of session. The press will be restricted to the House gallery on opening day and possibly throughout the session.While no firm rules have been decided or put in place, Geren stressed that the degree to which the House will be locked down will be left up to the members when they debate rules at the opening of session. Geren said the nature of the discussions now is centered on finding a balance between constitutionally-mandated access for the general public and media while keeping lawmakers safe

Only in Austin…

The annual Austin Trail of Lights is drive-through-only this year, with timed access every evening from now through January 3. Since one holiday drive-through isn’t enough, Austinites can also enjoy the Peppermint Parkway, at Circuit of the Americas racetrack, where your car will follow hosts Pepper and Mint as they rush to deliver Christmas letters to Santa. While you wait for your vehicle reservation time(s), shop artworks, jewelry, crafts, and more from local vendors at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar.