(AUSTIN) — Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, along with Republican activist Dr. Steven Hotze, have filed a lawsuit against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Texas Senate for a rule requiring individuals to take COVID-19 tests prior to entering the Senate’s gallery and committee rooms.
The lawsuit, filed in Travis County, calls the rule an “unconstitutional effort” to shut down Texans’ access to the Senate.
The attorney for the case, Jared Woodfill, told KXAN News it’s not fair to limit government access to those who get a negative test. He also points to the Texas House, which does not require any testing to enter the gallery or testify in committee hearings.
The lawsuit cites the Texas Constitution’s prohibition of laws that abridge the freedom of speech or the right of the people to petition the government.
Steven Aranyi, a spokesperson for Lt. Gov. Patrick, told KXAN the Lieutenant Governor does not vote on Senate Rules.
“But he agrees with the unanimous decision of the Texas Senate to test in order to protect the public, the Capitol staff who interact with hundreds of visitors every day, as well as members of the Legislature,” Aranyi continued.