State Capitol

The pandemic will continue to affect everyday life into 2021, and the State Legislature meeting in January is no exception.

For the upcoming session, Lubbock State Representative John Frullo says there's a possibility reps will be voting from their own offices, instead of on the House floor.

Lubbock State Senator Charles Perry says public access is a goal, but visitors might have to be tested before entering.

"I think you'll see a definite access for public testimonial hearings. But I think you'll see less bills being heard, just to mitigate a large group of people hanging around in the capitol unnecessarily," Perry said.

Perry, Frullo and Lubbock State Rep. Dustin Burrows all say this will be a challenging session, with passing a budget and redistricting at the top of the list.

"It's very important. We are facing a $4.3 billion shortfall. In addition to that we're looking at a redistricting session. I don't know if the census data will be back to us during session or not, looking like it won't, but West Texas needs to continue to have as much representation as we can," Burrows said.

Burrows has several bills in draft, including transparency in healthcare costs, property taxes, and protecting first responders.

"We've seen things around the country where they've been disrespected and things happening and I want to make sure they're protected. And when they're out in the line of duty and do things that put themselves at risk for us, and perhaps even develop sickness like Covid. I want to make sure they're taken care of," Burrows added.

Frullo says he will continue his work for education, specifically Texas Tech.

He is also concerned about human trafficking and gun bills.

"So there's always those to reduce magazines and different types of guns become illegal, and all of that, out here in Lubbock, we're going to be fighting against having those kinds of restrictions put in place," Frullo said.

Senator Perry is focusing on a water bill and rural broadband access.

He says big picture items will include healthcare reform, voter election laws, the fossil fuel industry and how to engage the Legislature outside of the governor's office during disasters.

"I think it will be recognized in the three-legged stool that we operate in this country, executive, legislative, and judiciary. We shut out two of those, I think, for longer than what people would've expected it be able to," Perry said.

Senator Perry adds Covid-19 has interrupted things, but it can't stop what lawmakers must do for the future of Texas.