AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas State Capitol remained sealed off to the public Monday, but that didn't stop about 500 bills from being filed electronically inside by the noon hour.
While there are a lot of issues to be debated, political analyst Brian Smith believes a looming budget shortfall caused by the pandemic and a new administration will overshadow them all.
"Legislators are going to want stuff, they are going to go to the cupboard and the cupboard is bare,” said Smith.
Not having revenue, could open the door for things like marijuana sales and gambling. Smith believes a lot of issues will be on the table as lawmakers look for new revenue streams.
There are several police reform bills.
The Sanda Bland case is expected to help push legislation prohibiting a person from being taken to jail for an offense, punishable only by a fine. The George Floyd case will factor into HB-88. A key part of the bill requires officers to intervene when witnessing incidents involving excessive force.
There is also legislation to restrict when and how police can shoot at a moving vehicle. Deaths in Dallas and Austin could factor into the debate of HB-95 filed by Representative Terry Meza.
"Not only are they likely to miss their target, but they may actually hit someone else entirely. If the officer gets in front of the moving care or remains in front of the moving car, in the course of the shooting the officer could actually get hurt, even if they hit the driver, so it is a safety thing for both the police officer and not only the driver but the passengers of the vehicle, to try to save lives,” said Rep. Meza D-Irving.
HB-88 would outlaw hair discrimination. The Crown Act, which stands for 'Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair,' was drafted after a teenager was told he had to cut his dreadlocks in order to walk in his high school graduation ceremony.
Even the Super Bowl is trying to score points under the capitol dome. HB-371 would make the day after the big game a holiday. El Paso Democrat Art Fierro said it is not a joke, he believes his bill will help businesses address post-game hangover-like absenteeism.
"For every 10 minutes that an employee spends rehashing the game or commercials, that is costing US employers almost $296 million in lost productivity, So it is a serious issue when you talk about business owners,” said Rep. Fierro.
There are other holiday bills. HB-36 would abolish Confederate Heroes Day. Senate Resolution 13 would allow Texas to back out of Daylight Savings.
The controversial and volatile presidential election brought about several election reform bills. The legislative proposals include mail-in ballots, lowering the voting age, and allowing electronica voter registration.