Texas House Speaker Phelan: Capitol changes coming after COVID-19 rules lift

Texas Politics

State-sponsored rapid testing for COVID-19 began for free on Jan. 4, 2021 outside the Texas Capitol on the day it reopened to the public. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan revealed the interface between lawmakers and the public may change in light of the governor’s lifting the statewide mask mandate and pandemic-related restrictions on March 10.

Texans can expect signs requiring mask-wearing in the Capitol to change to “masks strongly recommended,” Phelan said. He indicated lawmakers may determine protocols for visitors to their individual offices.

The optional rapid-testing outside the North entrance to the Texas Capitol will remain, Phelan said.

“We’ve been very mindful in the House to try to be as open and transparent as possible with the public,” Phelan said. “We don’t want to decide and vote on bills that impact 29 million people, without hearing from 29 million people who have to live underneath those laws.”

“We had a working group set up protocols and had the House consider those in the House rules on the third day of session,” Phelan noted. “Those were adopted, and for those pandemic rules to change, we would have to have a vote on the House floor of all 149 members who vote on those.”

A spokesperson for the State Preservation Board, the agency responsible for maintaining the Capitol and grounds, wrote in an email requesting information on Thursday, “At this time we do not have a comment as we are coordinating with all the affected parties to smoothly transition next Wednesday.”

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