With the legislative session slated to begin next week, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has announced a series of protocols for opening day of the Texas Senate.
According to Patrick, all senators have agreed to submit to coronavirus testing for themselves and their staff.
Though a limited number of friends and family will be allowed in the Senate gallery on opening day, guests must also receive COVID-19 tests. The swearing-in ceremony will be shorter than in years past. Patrick says the chamber is “reducing all ceremonial events and gatherings this session to focus solely on their constitutional legislative duties.”
Additionally, most senate offices will be open by appointment only “to facilitate social distancing in their relatively small offices and to protect both the public and their staff.”
Media coverage will be limited to a press pool of four, who will be seated in the gallery.
Though these protocols are limited to the first day of the 140-day session, Patrick also noted that protocols and rules for the first 60 days of the legislative session will be voted on by the senators during the first week of the session.
Protocols announced last month for the Texas House say all attendees—whether members-elect, family, media, or members of the public—will be asked to take a COVID-19 screening test before entering, but the protocols stopped short of mandating the screening tests.
The session will begin in the Texas House and Senate at noon on Tuesday, January 12.