In an announcement from the House floor Wednesday morning, Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, revealed his list of committee assignments for the 86th legislative session.
Committees play a key role in the legislative process in both chambers — all bills must be heard and approved by a committee before they are voted on by the full body of the House or the Senate.
Bonnen chose state Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, to fill the role of speaker pro tempore, the second-in-command in House leadership. The speaker pro tempore takes on the responsibilities of the speaker in his or her absence and typically oversees debate on “local and consent” bills, which deal with procedural issues and issues relevant to only one part of the state.
The Higher Education Committee, which considers legislation regarding Texas colleges and universities, will be chaired by state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, Turner campaigned on making college more affordable and to increase access to grants by middle-class families.
State Rep. Sheryl Cole, D-Austin, landed spots on the County Affairs, Redistricting, and Ways and Means House committees. State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, will be vice chair of the House Human Services Committee and will be seated on the Defense & Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — the Senate’s presiding officer — announced his committee assignments last week.
State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, will serve as president pro tempore, and vice chair of the Nominations Committee. The former Austin mayor will also have seats on the Education, Finance and Higher Education committees.
The Senate’s Higher Education Committee will be chaired by state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe.
State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, will be vice chair of the Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee, and a member of the Administration, Business and Commerce, and State Affairs committees.
State Sen. Joan Huffman will chair the powerful State Affairs Committee. Huffman chaired the committee last session, wbhen it saw controversial items such as the “bathroom bill” and abortion-related legislation.