At noon Tuesday, January 10, the 88th Texas Legislative Session will officially begin. New state representatives and state senators will gather for a swearing in; the halls of the Texas Capitol will be bustling and TALA VP of Public Policy Carmen Tilton will be there live and in-person – you can see live Twitter updates from Carmen here.
According to the Texas Constitution, each legislative session lasts exactly 140 days and occurs every other year. Legislators have until May 29th to pass a two-year budget and any policy items. . At the time this article was published, over 1,600 bills have been filed. Most won’t even make it onto the floor for votes.
For Carmen Tilton, the next 140 days represents a lot of late nights, hundreds of hours spent on committee hearings, and many miles trod on the granite floors of the Capitol Building.
Last session, TALA tracked and worked on 167 bills that would have had an impact on our members. A handful of those bills became laws (i.e., limited liability protections for pandemic-related events), some became rules projects spearheaded by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (i.e., improved Change of Ownership process), and a few will be attempted once again (i.e., mandate requiring all Assisted Living communities have an on-site generator).
As we look forward to the start of the 88th Legislative Session, here are TALA’s ten takeaways from the previous legislative session:
- Winter Storm Uri, the Covid-19 Delta Surge, three special sessions, and the emergence of the Omicron variant created a regulatory landscape which was written and rewritten over and over again. 2021 showed Texas providers that you can never be too prepared.
- Elected officials are interested in a wide variety of topics. Last session, we saw bills ranging from mandatory visitation policies to infection control and prevention committees to generators for all assisted living communities to new construction prohibitions in floodplains.
- Despite dozens (maybe hundreds) of individual visits to legislative offices, there are always more people to talk to. TALA President Diana Martinez, TALA Advisor Jaime Capelo, and Carmen Tilton met with all members of the Senate Health and Human Services, House Human Services, House Public Health, Senate Finance, House Appropriations, and House Calendars Committees multiple times.
- Vaccine mandates and vaccine prohibition bills will be filed every session and every special session for the foreseeable future.
- Calls from constituents and visits in-person will always have more impact than an email, no matter how well-written it is.
- Every committee hearing is an opportunity to highlight the incredible people and work that makes assisted living special.
It is an honor and a privilege for TALA to be your voice at the Texas Capitol. If you want to join the action, we hope you’ll attend the TALA Advocacy Day on March 1st.