87th LegislatureHealthcareTexas House Administration Committee Votes to End Mask Requirement

A resolution to end the Texas House’s mask requirement now awaits final approval or denial by the full chamber.
April 27, 2021
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The Texas House Administration Committee voted 7 to 3 on Tuesday morning to advance a resolution to end the Texas House’s mask requirement.

Reps. Sheryl Cole (D-Austin), Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood), and Armando Walle (D-Houston) voted against canceling the rules that required face coverings.

House Resolution (HR) 333 would end Rule 4, Section 8A and Rule 5, Section 19A in the Texas House Rules, which were passed by the chamber at the beginning of the 87th legislature.

Rule 4 mandates face coverings in committee hearings unless a person is testifying from the podium. Committee members who are separated by plexiglass and have not been required to wear masks.

Rule 5 requires masks in the House chamber with limited exceptions, including for the speaker while he is presiding over the chamber and for members who are speaking from the front or back microphones.

The Texan Tumbler

In late March, the committee had considered the possibility of rescinding the mandates but chose to postpone their decision at the recommendation of the University of Texas (UT) System’s chief medical officer, David Lakey. 

Former state Rep. John Zerwas (R-Richmond), a physician who is now the UT System’s executive vice chancellor for health affairs, also gave testimony in support of the concept of wearing masks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The chamber’s sergeant at arms has been strictly enforcing the mask requirement for visitors in the House gallery, though some state representatives on the floor have been regularly disregarding the requirement.

The statewide requirement to wear a face covering and capacity restrictions on businesses ended on March 10. In the weeks that followed, coronavirus hospitalizations remained on a downward trajectory.

HR 333 now awaits a final decision by the full Texas House.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated an incorrect resolution number.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.