Case Counts/Testing in Texas – Saturday, May 8th (1:45 PM data)
Total Tests Performed – 28,919,470
Confirmed Cases – 2,485,695 (1,445 new cases)
Active Cases – 59,279
Hospitalizations – 2,508 (10,836 available beds, 907 available ICU beds)
Fatalities – 49,572 (45 new deaths)
Recovered Cases – 2,765,076
Vaccine Data – Saturday, May 8th (12:30 PM data)
Doses Shipped by state – 20,345,200
People with one dose received – 11,402,111
People fully vaccinated – 8,594,479
Total doses administered – 19,324,116
Inside the Numbers
Positivity rate as of Friday, May 7th was 4.65%. One month ago, there were 1,900 new cases reported, one week ago there were 2,500 new cases reported, compared to the 1,445 reported yesterday. The 2,508 COVID patients in hospitals now is 114 fewer patients compared to one week ago, and COVID patients make up 3.9% of total hospital beds in the state.
Over the last week, an average of 140,926 doses have been administered each day in the state. As of Thursday, May 6th , 29.2% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.
House in Saturday Session
As session ending deadlines begin to approach, the House met today for the first time on a Saturday this session. The House took up a resolutions calendar and then a calendar of uncontested, non-controversial bills. Then, they finished their calendar from Friday. Most bills went smoothly, but there were a couple of tense moments between members. With tensions still running high from a long week of debate on the House floor, most of the debate today was due to personality clashes between members, rather than the subject matter of the legislation.
The main reason for the Saturday session is the fact that the House is starting to run up against its end of session deadlines. The House staggers deadlines on procedural matters as the session reaches its last month to try and alleviate the rush of bills still stuck in committees. On Monday, House committees must report out all bills that they will recommend for floor consideration. Any bill not reported out by Monday is dead. Thursday is the last day that the House can consider a House bill on the floor. Bills that have come over from the Senate can still be considered for an additional two weeks. Because of these deadlines, the House will be on the floor considering legislation for many hours each day. Committee work in the House is effectively over for the session.
Conservative Policies Moved This Week
Several high profile bills that are considered priority legislation for the Republican Party and for conservatives took center stage moving through the process this week:
First, the House passed the “fetal heartbeat bill” that bans all abortions after a heartbeat is detected. In effect, the bill bans abortions at roughly the sixth week of pregnancy, and does not exempt pregnant women due to conditions such as rape or incest.
The House also approved a statewide camping ban that bans homeless encampments anywhere in the state. This was done in response to the city of Austin’s lifting of the camping ban last year that led to numerous homelss encampments throughout the city.
The Senate approved its version of the permitless carry legislation, that eliminates the need for anyone to obtain a license to carry a handgun. The version differs from the House version, but the two chambers should work out any issues and send the bill to the Governor this week. Gov. Abbott has already indicated he plans to sign the bill.
The House passed their version of a bill related to changing the process of elections in the state. Supporters call it an election integrity bill, while opponents say the bill will serve to surpress voters, particularly minority and disabled voters. Before floor debate, House Democrats were ready with nearly 150 amendments to the bill. After several hours of negotiations, the Republicans relented and accepted a few of the Democrats changes to the bill. But, not enough to sway them to support the overall legislation. The House and Senate versions are quite different, and the bill is expected to go to a conference committee this week.
The House also approved legislation to penalize cities that defund police departments this week. A very contentious and often times emotional debate highlighted this very partisan issue. Democrats accused Republicans of violating what was once a cornerstone of Republican party politics – local control. But Republicans countered with the arguments of the necessity to protect public safety and show support for police officers. After consideration of several amendments by the Democrats were rejected this bill passed mostly along party lines.
And finally, in a turn of irony, a Democratic House member helped to revive one of the Republicans’ legislative priorites this week, which relates to transgender athletes. SB 29 requires high school athletes to participate on sports teams based on their gender at birth. After a vote to advance the bill out of the House Public Education committee failed last week, the committee chairman brought it up for a vote again yesterday and the bill passed out of committee.
Three Weeks To Go
When members return Monday, there will be 21 days left in the session. As mentioned before, with the deadline approaching for consideration of bills originating in the House by the House members on the floor, that body will be in session well into the night, everyday this week. One major issue they will take up Monday is HB 3, which relates to the Governor’s powers and the state response during times of disaster, including the current pandemic.
The Senate took a long break for the Mother’s Day weekend, having adjourned Thursday morning, and planning to return on Monday at 4:30PM.
Here’s wishing all the mothers out there a very happy, safe, and enjoyable day tomorrow with your families.