A new memorandum provided to Texas Scorecard outlines the rules and procedures for the opening day of the legislative session in the Texas House, giving potential foresight into what the 140-day session could look like—testing, masks, and all.
In the memo sent to all House members-elect of the upcoming 87th Texas Legislature, State Rep. Charlie Geren (R–Ft. Worth), who serves as the chairman of House Administration, laid out updated guidelines for the January 12 opening day, which will see all 150 members sworn in and a Speaker of the House officially elected.
“In response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and as a result of discussions of the Workgroup on Legislative Operations during a Pandemic, ceremonial and operational modifications will be implemented for opening day of the 87th Legislature,” said Geren. “The duration of the ceremony will be shortened, and there will be a significant reduction in the number of people admitted to the House floor and gallery.”
To that end, Geren said all attendees—whether members-elect, family, media, or members of the public—will be asked to take a COVID-19 screening test before entering the Texas Capitol.
Additionally, all attendees will be required to wear masks.
Notably, the document says there will be a “limited number of seats available in the gallery for members of the public” and that the process of assigning those seats is “forthcoming.”
The announcement comes just days after leaders in the Republican Party of Texas passed a resolution demanding the Capitol reopen without restriction, as the building has been closed to the public since March.
Capitol sources have suggested additional guidance for the rest of the legislative session could be coming in the following days.