WHAT’S GOING ON AT THE CAPITOL?

And they’re off!  Literally.  Both chambers convened for a week before taking a week off for Presidential inaugural festivities and Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations.  The beginning of each legislative session usually begins at a snail’s pace and ends with an impenetrable log-jam of legislation, leaving legislators collectively scratching their heads wondering where the time went.   With 125 days left in the 140-day legislative session, the process is barely beginning.

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst issued Senate committee assignments late last week with very few surprises because the identity of many committee chairs had been known for some time (see below for a list).  The Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee, which hears a large amount of city-related bills, will be chaired by Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D – McAllen).  Senators Robert Nichols (R – Jacksonville), Ken Paxton (R – McKinney), and Larry Taylor (R – Friendswood) will also serve on the committee.

A particularly interesting move is the creation of a Senate Finance subcommittee on “state and local revenue matters” to be chaired by Senator Glenn Hegar (R – Katy).  The committee will likely consider all finance-related legislation that does not impact the budget.  However, the subcommittee’s jurisdiction is still unclear at this time.

The House always lags behind in issuing committee assignments, and this session is no different.  With 43 freshmen members and another 24 members with only one session under their belts, the task of assigning committees is more difficult.  House committee assignments should be made around the first of February.

ADMINISTRATION
Eltife (R – Tyler), Chair
Uresti (D – San Antonio), Vice-Chair
Carona (R – Dallas), Hancock (R – Fort Worth), Whitmire (D – Houston), Williams (R – The Woodlands),  Zaffirini (D – Laredo)

AGRICULTURE, RURAL AFFAIRS AND HOMELAND SECURITY
Estes (R – Wichita Falls), Chair
Uresti (D – San Antonio), Vice-Chair
Hegar (R – Katy), Hinojosa (D – McAllen), Schwertner (R – Georgetown)

BUSINESS AND COMMERCE
Carona (R – Dallas), Chair
Taylor (R – Friendswood), Vice-Chair
Eltife (R – Tyler), Estes (R – Wichita Falls), Hancock (R – Fort Worth), Lucio (D – Brownsville),  Van de Putte (D – San Antonio), Watson (D – Austin), Whitmire (D – Houston)

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Nelson (R – Flower Mound), Chair
Deuell (R – Greenville), Vice-Chair
Huffman (R – Southside Place), Nichols (R – Jacksonville), Schwertner (R – Georgetown), Taylor (R – Friendswood), Uresti (D – San Antonio), West (D – Dallas), Zaffirini (D – Laredo)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Whitmire (D – Houston), Chair
Huffman (R – Southside Place), Vice-Chair
Carona (R – Dallas), Hinojosa (D – McAllen), Patrick (R – Houston), Rodriguez (D – El Paso), Schwertner (R – Georgetown)

HIGHER EDUCATION
Seliger (R – Amarillo), Chair
Watson (D – Austin), Vice-Chair
Birdwell (R – Granbury), Duncan (R – Lubbock), Patrick (R – Houston), West (D – Dallas), Zaffirini (D – Laredo)

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Deuell (R – Greenville), Chair
Hancock (R – Fort Worth), Vice-Chair
Birdwell (R – Granbury), Davis (D – Fort Worth), Eltife (R – Tyler), Fraser (R – Horseshoe Bay), Watson (D – Austin)

INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS
Hinojosa (D – McAllen), Chair
Nichols (R – Jacksonville), Vice-Chair
Paxton (R – McKinney), Taylor (R – Friendswood)

EDUCATION
Patrick (R – Houston), Chair
Lucio (D – Brownsville), Vice-Chair
Campbell (R – New Braunfels), Duncan (R – Lubbock), Paxton (R – McKinney), Seliger (R – Amarillo), Taylor (R – Friendswood), Van de Putte (D – San Antonio), West (D – Dallas)

JURISPRUDENCE
West (D – Dallas), Chair
Rodriguez (D – El Paso), Vice-Chair
Campbell (R – New Braunfels), Carona (R – Dallas), Hancock (R – Fort Worth), Paxton (R – McKinney)

FINANCE
Williams (R – The Woodlands), Chair
Hinojosa (D – McAllen), Vice-Chair
Deuell (R – Greenville), Duncan (R – Lubbock), Eltife (R – Tyler), Estes (R – Wichita Falls), Hegar (R – Katy) (Subcom. Chair), Huffman (R – Southside Place), Lucio (D – Brownsville), Nelson (R – Flower Mound), Patrick (R – Houston), Seliger (R – Amarillo), West (D – Dallas), Whitmire (D – Houston), Zaffirini (D – Laredo)

NATURAL RESOURCES
Fraser (R – Horseshoe Bay), Chair
Estes (R – Wichita Falls), Vice-Chair
Deuell (R – Greenville), Duncan (R – Lubbock), Ellis (D – Houston), Eltife (R – Tyler), Hegar (R – Katy), Hinojosa (D – McAllen), Nichols (R – Jacksonville), Seliger (R – Amarillo), Uresti (D – San Antonio)

GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION
Zaffirini (D – Laredo), Chair
Schwertner (R – Georgetown), Vice-Chair
Birdwell (R – Granbury), Paxton (R – McKinney), Rodriguez (D – El Paso), Taylor (R – Friendswood)

NOMINATIONS
Hegar (R – Katy), Chair
Campbell (R – New Braunfels), Vice-Chair
Carona (R – Dallas), Fraser (R – Horseshoe Bay), Nelson (R – Flower Mound), Watson (D – Austin)

STATE AFFAIRS
Duncan (R – Lubbock), Chair
Deuell (R – Greenville), Vice-Chair
Ellis (D – Houston), Fraser (R – Horseshoe Bay), Huffman (R – Southside Place), Lucio (D – Brownsville), Nichols (R – Jacksonville),
Van de Putte (D – San Antonio), Williams (R – The Woodlands)

OPEN GOVERNMENT
Ellis (D – Houston), Chair
Davis (D – Fort Worth), Vice-Chair
Nelson (R – Flower Mound), Seliger (R – Amarillo), Williams (R – The Woodlands) Campbell (R – New Braunfels), Davis (D – Fort Worth), Ellis (D – Houston), Hancock (R – Fort Worth), Patrick (R – Houston), Uresti (D – San Antonio), Watson (D – Austin)

TRANSPORTATION
Nichols (R – Jacksonville), Chair
Paxton (R – McKinney), Vice-Chair

VETERANS AFFAIRS AND MILITARY INSTALLATIONS
Van de Putte (D – San Antonio), Chair
Birdwell (R – Granbury), Vice-Chair
Campbell (R – New Braunfels), Davis (D – Fort Worth), Rodriguez (D – El Paso)

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