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Two Texas Legislators Say They’ll Skip Session’s Opening Day, Calling It A ‘Superspreader Event’

Texas State Capitol in Austin.
Shutterstock
Texas State Capitol in Austin.

Michelle Beckley and Ana-Maria Ramos, both Democrats who represent areas in North Texas, will be sworn in via alternative means instead.

Representatives Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton) and Ana-Maria Ramos (D-Richardson) have announced that they will not travel to Austin for the opening day of the Texas Legislature at the state Capitol because they believe the swearing-in ceremony may become a COVID-19 "superspreader event."

Ramos, a Democrat, represents parts of Addison, Richardson, Garland and Dallas. She doesn’t want to be part of something that has the potential to put lives at risk.

“It is a superspreader event in my opinion," Ramos said. "And we know that — unfortunately — our Republican counterparts don’t take it seriously. But I do. And we are going to not be there.”

Her fellow Democrat, Michelle Beckley, represents southeast Denton County. She says the big reason she’s skipping the event is safety protocols.

"I believe it is irresponsible to have all the members and guests in the House Chamber for an extended period of time, especially as no new allowances have been made to address the fact that the more contagious variant of COVID-19 has been found in Texas," Beckley said in a statement. "Not only can this event potentially expose my colleagues and me, along with friends and family, to the virus, but it could potentially put a further burden on the hospital region of not only Austin but all of our constituencies."

She says there aren’t even rules in place for social distancing at the ceremony.

“We found out that we can each swear ourselves in, as long as we do it on Tuesday after 12," Beckley said. "It’s actually not a big deal that you actually don’t have to go to the ceremony. But that actually was not my concern. I was more concerned about COVID.”

Both lawmakers said last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol had them worried — but not as much as the coronavirus.

Said Beckley: "The likelihood that I get COVID is way more high than the likelihood that I’m gonna get shot and killed. I mean, let’s be realistic.”

The two plan to swear each other into office at an alternative location, as allowed by Texas law. They’re not talking about exactly where, because of safety concerns.

Got a tip? Email Hady Mawajdeh at hady@KERA.org. You can follow Hady on Twitter @hadysauce.

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