Around the Texas Capitol: Legislative committees get their interim assignments and more

Around the Texas Capitol: Legislative committees get their interim assignments and more

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Around the Texas Capitol:
Legislative committees get their interim assignments and more

By Lauren Fairbanks, Shayne Woodard and J Pete Laney
TAD Governmental Affairs

January 10, 2023. That’s the date the next legislative session will gavel in. But much of the work will begin in the coming weeks and months. The Texas Legislature uses the interim between legislative sessions to prepare, giving us an indication of what each chamber’s priorities will be come January.

Shortly after primary election races wrapped up (though a handful will not be determined until the May runoff), House Speaker Dade and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released their interim. Interim charges outline the issues House and Senate leadership determine as priorities and will pursue in the coming session. The charges are assigned to committees, which will hold hearings, work with stakeholders impacted by the charges and issue their reports before the next legislative session. They often are the foundation for first drafts of legislation.

Many of the Senate and House priorities overlap, particularly on major issues like the reliability and weatherization of the Texas electric grid, border security, property tax relief, rural broadband development, impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and schools, election integrity, and the impacts of trade with Russia and restriction on investment of Russian government-controlled entities.

Other interim charges directly relate to Texas agriculture and even the dairy industry specifically. In the Senate, the Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee chaired by Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) will examine and report on how permanently maintaining daylight savings time impacts the agricultural community, as well as study the impact of cattle theft on farming and ranching operations throughout Texas and recommend cost-effective measures to mitigate loss and increase security.

In the House, Chairman DeWayne Burns’ (R-Cleburne) Agriculture and Livestock Committee will study the impact on agricultural operations, including the operations of dairy facilities, of governmental and regulatory requirements and practices including those that prevent or prohibit an activity that is a normally accepted agricultural practice, and make recommendations to facilitate and encourage agricultural and dairy production in the state.

The Texas Association of Dairymen team is already working with many dairy industry representatives from across the state to champion dairy’s benefits to the state in a future hearing. This charge will specifically allow the state’s dairy farmers to highlight the various sectors within our industry and show how the Texas dairy industry continues to grow and thrive across the state.

Find a complete list of House interim charges here.

Find a complete list of Senate interim charges here.

In addition to the release of interim charges this month, both Phelan and Patrick announced leadership changes for several committees:

  • Phelan named Will Metcalf (R-Conroe) Interim chairman of the House Committee on State Affairs. Metcalf replaces Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), who recently resigned from the House. Metcalf will continue to serve as chairman of the House Administration Committee until the beginning of the 88th Texas Legislature in January 2023.
  • Patrick appointed Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) to the Senate Committee on Finance in place of Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood).
  • Patrick appointed Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) as vice chair of the Senate Committee on Finance in place of Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville), who did not run for reelection.
  • Patrick appointed Sen. Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas) to the Sunset Advisory Commission in place of Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.
  • Patrick appointed Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) to the Sunset Advisory Commission in place of Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), who is not retiring but was recently appointed chairman of the Senate Committee on Border Security in addition to his duties as chairman of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development.
  • Patrick named Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) as chairman of the Senate Committee on Education. During the 88th legislative Session, Patrick plans to make the Senate Committee on Higher Education a sub-committee of the Senate Committee on Education. During the interim, Creighton will chair both committees, which will continue to meet separately.


Texas Senate District 10

On April 6, Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson) suspended her re-election campaign after legal efforts to restore SD 10 to its Tarrant County-only configuration failed, citing an “unwinnable race” in a district that shifted from a swing district to a Republican-leaning district. The redrawn district would have voted for Donald Trump by 16 points. It previously leaned for Joe Biden by 8 points. Her name will not appear on the general election ballot. Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford), the Republican nominee, was already heavily favored and is now the presumptive winner

Texas House District 38

Rep. Erin Gamez (D-Brownsville) was sworn in to serve the remaining unexpired term of former Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville). Gamez was the lone candidate in the special election after winning the Democratic primary, so the special election was not held. Barring a certified write-in candidacy, she is unopposed for a full term.

Texas House District 147

March 7 was the deadline for candidates to file in the May 7 special election for HD 147 to replace Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), who retired on Feb. 28. Early voting will begin on April 25. Two candidates filed: Jolanda Jones (D-Houston), an attorney and Houston ISD trustee; and Danielle Keys Bess (D-Houston), a principal with StrateKeys Government Consulting and senior vice-president for Womack Development and Investment Realtors.

Texas House District 9

On March 2, Rep. Chris Paddie announced his resignation from the Texas House effective immediately. It is unclear if a special election will be called to fill the remaining unexpired term. He had announced in September that he would not seek re-election in 2022.

Texas Congressional District 34

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) announced he would resign early to take a position at Akin Gump. Gov. Gregg Abbott ordered a June 14 emergency special election to fill the unexpired term. Candidates had until April 13 to file with the Secretary of State. Early voting will begin May 31. The election will be run under the current boundaries, not the boundaries being used for this year’s primary and general elections.

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