COVID-19: Objectives for the Future

Lynn Stucky, DVM, Texas State Representative

Calls. Emails. DMs. In the past two months, the amount of information I have received and delivered to constituents, state agencies, fellow lawmakers, and my family has given me a broad perspective on how COVID-19 has affected nearly every aspect of our lives.

This is personal, regardless of whether you have contracted the virus. We have all been affected in one way or another. Physically. Financially. Mentally. Spiritually. We are in need of healing. My experiences tell me if we work together, we can ensure a speedy and healthy recovery.

The common goal: re-open Texas fully, safely, and without restrictions.

This is a task that will continue to be carried out in phases by leadership at the governor’s office, as well as at the city and county level. The short-term goals will be managed by local leadership until the governor lifts his statewide disaster declaration, or it expires. And at that time, we should find a way to collectively celebrate every one of the doctors, nurses, health care providers, first responders, and essential workers. These are the folks who continue to give their all to not only ensure our health, but also keep the lights on, maintain trash pickup, or deliver groceries to at-risk Texans who couldn’t or can’t leave the house. There are so many to thank and we should take the time to do so using the full capacity of our pride for Texas.

In the long-term, the strategy and policy opportunities for the next legislative session are coming into focus.

We already are looking into the policy language necessary to make key changes in the next legislative session. And we know there is more that can be done to help Texans when crisis strikes, including provisions in health policy to allow for basic care in a pandemic.

As the vice-chair of the House Committee on Higher Education and a member of the Article III Appropriations subcommittee, I will be looking into providing the necessary funding to expand research into viral testing to increase capacity and efficiency statewide. The continued need for expansion of graduate medical education funding will be a necessary debate in the coming months, as well.

This will be particularly difficult until we have an accurate picture of budgetary constraints. This can be eased by having a select Appropriations subcommittee exercise a comprehensive review of unfunded mandates. That committee would follow-up with the recommended suspension or repeal of selected mandates for a duration no longer than two biennial budget periods. This could provide much-needed relief to schools and local governments that also will be looking at budgetary constraints.

I expect a wave of policy proposals that will break just as soon as this crisis is over, and I look forward to learning more about those and continuing to pursue the best course to restore the Texas Miracle. Let’s get there together as Texans.