House and Senate Mostly Working Away from Austin
Both chambers are currently recessed until Feb. 9 when the House will meet at 2 p.m., and the Senate will meet at 3 p.m. Meanwhile, two Senate committees, Finance and the Special Committee on Redistricting, have scheduled hearings in the upcoming weeks. Texas Legislature Online includes calendars of upcoming meetings for each chamber.
In this issue of the newsletter, TAC staff members provide an update on the progress of the state budget for the next biennium and discuss redistricting at the state level, including an update on when to expect the U.S. Census Bureau to release data from the 2020 census.
Senate Finance Schedules Hearings
The Senate Committee on Finance has scheduled hearings on Senate Bill 1, the Senate’s introduced version of the general appropriations bill for the 2022-23 biennium. The hearings will begin Feb. 8, with an organizational meeting with no public testimony, and continue through March 2. State agencies and courts will provide testimony on SB 1 recommendations. Members of the public are also invited to testify in person and are required to register by noon the day of the hearing. Links to the hearing schedule, including the list of agencies scheduled to testify, can be found here. See the hearing notices on that page for more information on safety requirements for those choosing to testify.
Governor’s Broadband Development Council Meets
On Jan. 28, the Governor’s Broadband Development Council met to hear updates on several issues, including Operation Connectivity and the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. Of note, 22 Texas providers won $362,662,934 in federal grants to offer internet service to 310,962 locations. Established in 2019 to study and identify ways to provide internet access to underserved Texas communities, the council will continue to meet and make recommendations.
Gov. Abbott’s State of the State Address
Gov. Greg Abbott is scheduled to deliver his State of the State address on Monday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. CST, updating Texans on the state’s response to COVID-19 and outlining his emergency items and priorities for the legislative session. The address will be televised on 15 local Nexstar channels statewide; the list of channels can be found here.
Eviction Moratorium Extended
On Jan. 1, President Joe Biden moved to extend a federal moratorium on evictions. In response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order the same day extending the eviction moratorium until at least March 31.
Biden also asked federal agencies to prolong a moratorium on foreclosures on federally guaranteed mortgages previously enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two of these departments, Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development, have posted extensions online running through at least the end of March. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently has a moratorium through the end of February.