What to expect in the 87th Texas Legislative Session

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AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The 87th Texas Legislature regular session runs from Jan. 12 to May 31.

State Representative of the 86th District, John Smithee, said that following the swearing in of legislators last week, the State Capitol has been closed due to potential demonstrations.

Additionally, he shared that this year’s big issues will revolve around the budget and redistricting.

He further explained that the budget has been impacted to a large degree by COVID-19.

However, State Senator of District 31 Kel Seliger said that on a positive note, the budget deficit that was projected could be much less than what they were expecting.

As for redistricting, legislators are facing the problem that census numbers are running behind.

Additionally, Senator Seliger shared how he believes in seeing through that a single test does not become the sole determinant for graduation in public schools.

“Public school administrators have done an excellent job seeing to it, that if our student here doesn’t pass all the STAAR tests that we have an alternative team to judge his or her performance to see if in fact, he or she really is eligible to graduate,” said Senator Seliger.

Additionally, Senator Seliger said that they are going to have a lot more obligation when it comes to Medicaid and the emergency steps that they have to take. He continued, “never again can we be found short on either ventilators or personal protective equipment (PPE).”

Representative Smithee said that due to COVID-19 restrictions, the difference in this year’s session is that they have a lot fewer people in the Capitol, regarding visitors and constituents. He additionally shared that after the first week of just swearing in, they have had three or four House members who have tested positive.

Like many Americans, Senator Seliger also had to deal with COVID-19 firsthand.

“I had absolutely no energy or strength whatsoever. None and I had no appetite. I could smell, I could taste, but I had no appetite,” said Senator Seliger. He shared that he remembers having the virus for 17 days.

He continued, “My poor wife had to almost force feed me, because she wasn’t going to let me go seventeen days without eating.”

Following that time period, Senator Seliger said it took awhile for him to regain his strength and stamina. However, he has now made a full recovery.

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