First-term Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) set the table for the Texas House of Representatives to begin committee hearings with last week’s announcement of committee chairs and members. In one of the first bellwethers of how the House will operate under his leadership, Speaker Phelan held true to his commitment to emphasize diversity as he distributed gavels among the ranks. While some familiar faces retained coveted leadership posts, new faces also populated the roster.
The Senate gives no formal nod to seniority in its assignments, but House rules provide for seniority appointments, giving members some say over where they will land. Another difference between the two is the limitation under House rules place whereunder the Chairs of significant committees such as Ways & Means may not serve on another committee. Perhaps most significantly, the House Calendars Committee meets to select legislation that will receive consideration by the full chamber. In the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor retains full discretion of the Senate’s calendar.
A shared component is the lobbying by members to their presiding officers. Speaker Phelan stated that he met with over 140 Representatives regarding their preferred committee assignments.
Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) retained his chairmanship of House County Affairs, with Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson (R-Waco) joining the committee again. New faces fill the rest of the dais. Rep. Lynn Stucky (R-Sanger) will serve as Vice Chair. The nine-member committee is rounded out with Representatives Jeff Cason (R-Bedford), Oscar Longoria (D-Mission), Ray Lopez (D-San Antonio), Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton), John Turner (D-Dallas), and whoever wins the Feb. 23 special election runoff for House District 68.
Some of the most significant chairmanships went to familiar faces, with Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) getting the coveted Calendars assignment, Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) moving to Appropriations, Harold Dutton (D-Houston) to Public Education, Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) to Redistricting, Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) to State Affairs, and Senfronia Thompson (R-Houston) to Licensing and Administrative Procedures.
Speaker Phelan’s recalibration of the House power structure saw just six members retain their chairmanships, with the remaining 29 committee chairs newly ensconced. Just two members of the House Calendars Committee survived the shakeup; the remaining nine are new to the role.
House State Affairs was the landing spot for last session’s failed SB 29. Unfortunately, that legislation has returned as HB 734 and SB 239. These identical measures threaten to severely restrict Texas counties’ ability to represent local interests at the Capitol. The 13-member State Affairs Committee is composed of 12 returning members, seven of whom, including Chairman Paddie, voted against last session’s SB 29.
The full list of committee assignments may be viewed by committee or member.
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