Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen made the highly anticipated announcement of each state representatives’ respective committee assignments today. The announcement comes less than one week after the announcement of the Texas Senate’s committee assignments and considerably earlier than had been the practice during the Straus speakership.
The timely manner underscores Bonnen’s previously stated commitment to working with the Texas Senate and Gov. Greg Abbott in moving priority legislation through the chamber.
“After thoughtful consideration, the following assignments have been made to reflect the seniority and personal preferences of members and the diverse demographics of the Texas House,” said Bonnen.
Bonnen said he was able to meet with over 140 of the 147 current lawmakers in the process and assured members that he went to great lengths in his consideration of the members’ respective districts when deciding which committees to assign them.
Chairing the powerful Calendars Committee will be State Rep. Four Price (R–Amarillo). Price had previously chaired the Committee on Public Health and was a candidate for Speaker of the House last year before withdrawing from the race and giving his support to Bonnen.
Perhaps the most important committee this session will be the Committee on Ways and Means, through which any property tax reform or relief legislation is expected to flow. Chairing that committee is State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), the chairman of the Texas House Republican Caucus.
The Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety has now been given to Democrat State Rep. Poncho Nevarez (Eagle Pass). While pro-gun legislation had traditionally been sent to this committee, it may be a sign that bills such as constitutional carry could be sent to the Committee on State Affairs instead.
Bonnen tapped State Rep. Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont) to head the state affairs committee.
State Rep. Sarah Davis (R–West University) has been removed from her chairmanship of the Committee on General Investigating and Ethics, whose jurisdiction was reduced in the new House rules. State Rep. Morgan Meyer (R–Dallas) will chair the new general investigating committee.
State Rep. Charlie Geren (R–Fort Worth) will retain his perch atop theCommittee on House Administration, despite criticism during the interim over his handling of the pervasive sexual harassment problem among members and staff.
Long-serving Democrat State Rep. Senfronia Thompson (Houston) will no longer control the Committee on Local and Consent Calendars, with that position instead going to State Rep. Geanie Morrison (R–Victoria). The committee will also feature conservative freshman State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R–Wallisville).
As expected State Rep. Dan Huberty (R–Kingwood) will return as the chair of Committee on Public Education.
Additionally, State Rep. John Zerwas (R–Richmond), who ran unsuccessfully for the speakership, will also return as the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, though with several new conservative members including State Reps. Cole Hefner (R–Mt. Pleasant) and Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands).
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced Senate committee assignments last Friday, though lewd comments made by State Sen. Ken Seliger (R-Amarillo) about a female Senate staffer have already resulted in a few revisions. Patrick removed Seliger of his one chairmanship and is expected to announce a new Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee “shortly.”
Texas House members will be getting to work with their new committees in the coming weeks. Though most bills may not reach the floor of the House until after the 60 day deadline, Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to include a number of emergency items for members to begin to work on in an expedited fashion during his upcoming “State of the State” address, to possibly include property tax relief, school finance reform, and redistricting of a North Texas House District recently struck down by a federal court.