AUSTIN — The Texas Senate gaveled in at noon on Tuesday, starting the 88th Legislative Session with a bang.
Historically considered the more conservative chamber of the Texas Legislature, the Senate moved even further to the right during the 2022 election cycle with a 19-12 Republican majority.
With the House expected to debate the merits of awarding valuable committee chairmanships to Democrats later this week, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who serves as president of the Senate and determines committee appointments, has said that only one Democrat will chair a committee in the Senate this cycle.
Democrat John Whitmire (Houston), the longest-serving member of the Texas Senate, will chair the Criminal Justice Committee.
Patrick will also designate several bills in the Senate as priority legislation. He previewed his priorities last fall, focusing on property taxes, Texas’ electric grid, and election security.
Patrick has promised the most “productive” session yet for the Senate, but voters are questioning whether the session will also prioritize conservative legislation.
Today I will gavel in the 88th Session of the Texas Senate here in Austin.
I look forward to another productive legislative session that will set the stage for an even greater Texas for future generations.
— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) January 10, 2023
The Texas GOP has eight legislative priorities—decided by voters—for the 2023 session, including parental rights and educational freedom, securing the border, defending gun rights, and protecting elections.
As grassroots organizations rallied outside the Capitol, calling for banning child gender mutilation and protecting kids from inappropriate materials in school libraries, the question remains as to whether Patrick’s priorities will match grassroots’ desires.
The Senate appointed State Sen. Kelly Hancock (R–North Richland Hills) as president pro tempore, a position second in command to Patrick in the Senate and third in line to serve as Texas governor. Hancock was nominated by State Sen. Robert Nichols (R–Jacksonville) and seconded by State Sens. Judith Zaffirini (D–Laredo), Charles Perry (R–Lubbock), and Whitmire.
Gov. Greg Abbott addressed the Senate and, citing Texas’ large budget surplus, said lawmakers have a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to improve the lives of Texans and ensure “Texas is the best state in the greatest nation in the history of the world.”
“The Senate is organized and ready to transact business,” said Patrick.
Citizens can use Texas Scorecard’s Elected Officials Directory to contact their state senator.