Last week, Speaker Dade Phelan announced committee assignments for the Texas House of Representatives, and some of the chairmen assignments might send signals that business owners and those who favor limited government find worrisome.

The House Business and Industry Committee is now chaired by State Rep. Chris Turner (D–Grand Prairie). Turner also happens to be the chairman of the House Democrat Caucus, which is composed of 67 Democrat members of the Texas House of Representatives.

Which Issues Go Through the House Business and Industry Committee?

Bills related to wages, collective bargaining, union organization, and regulations on business typically get sent to the House Business and Industry Committee.

A Brief “Regulation-Related” Legislative History for Rep. Turner

In 2017, 10 bills related to the minimum wage were heard in the House Business and Industry Committee. None of the bills were ever brought up for a vote; however, one of the bills authored by Turner himself, House Joint Resolution 56, was fast-tracked by a procedural vote on the House floor. This vote was to suspend the five-day posting rule for the committee, limiting the ability to get public input. Two of the current Republicans on the committee, State Reps. Hugh Shine (R–Temple) and Stan Lambert (R–Abilene), voted in favor of that motion.

In 2015, Turner authored an amendment to House Bill 32 that would have changed the permanent cuts to the franchise tax with that of “temporary permissive rates.” The amendment ultimately failed.

So far this session, Turner has filed only one regulation-related bill: House Bill 1485, which would further control elevator mechanics.

What Does This Mean?

The House Business and Industry Committee has been chaired by a Democrat for over a decade, but never by the Democrat Caucus chairman with the potential to try to promote the state Democrat Party platform and priorities.

In a year where businesses have been hit the hardest due to the pandemic and burdensome regulation by state and local government executives, does this committee assignment send signals that the House might be open to further burdening business?

Jeramy Kitchen

Jeramy Kitchen serves as the Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard as well as host of 'This Week in Texas', a show previewing the week ahead in Texas politics. After managing campaigns for conservative legislators across the state, serving as Chief of Staff for multiple conservative state legislators, and serving as Legislative Director for the largest public policy think tank in Texas, Jeramy moved outside of the Austin bubble to focus on bringing transparency to the legislative process.