Since March, the Texas Capitol has been closed to the public, as part of the state’s response to the Chinese coronavirus. As the upcoming legislative session draws closer on the calendar, questions have arisen over whether the Capitol will remain closed once session begins.
An anonymous survey of Texas House members reveals most lawmakers favor restricting access to the Texas Capitol building.
According to the survey, which was administered by the Texas House Administration Committee, 87 percent of lawmakers favor mandatory temperature checks on entry, 83 percent favor requiring face masks, and more than 60 percent oppose permitting outside groups to reserve space for events.
Eighty percent support suspending public tours, and 60 percent support curtailing them altogether. A razor-thin majority favor allowing visitor groups in the House gallery during the session, but a strong majority believes recognizing guests from the floor should be limited.
Though many House members are in favor of restrictions on citizens, the tables begin to turn when talking about themselves. Eighty-six percent favor designating certain entrances of the Texas Capitol building for members and staff only. And 76 percent favor keeping the members’ lounge open for business, serving food and drinks, with one anonymous respondent calling it “absolutely necessary.”
“The members’ lounge is a critical component to member relationships. Often, it is the only time for members to get to know each other and have good discussions,” said one respondent. “Members who are really concerned do not have to go in there, but it should be open.”
“I like to eat sweets. We should have those,” wrote another.
Whether or not citizens are ultimately allowed to enter the pink dome, the legislative session is set to begin on January 12, 2021.