88th LegislatureState SenateStatewide NewsLt. Gov. Patrick Releases Committee Assignments, Chairs for 88th Legislative Session

Patrick appointed 12 Republicans and one Democrat to chair the Senate's committees, calling them the "best equipped group of senators in Texas history."
and 20 hours ago
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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has released committee assignments in the Texas Senate for the 88th session of the Texas Legislature.

“This is the strongest, best equipped group of senators in Texas history,” Patrick wrote in a statement accompanying the nominations. “They are proven leaders with the expertise and experience needed to keep Texas moving in the right direction. That includes the most outstanding freshman class we have ever had.”

“The overwhelming majority of bills voted on by the chamber will have bipartisan support. But make no mistake, the priority bills will address the concerns of the conservative majority in Texas.”

As lieutenant governor, Patrick is responsible for all appointments to committees in the upper chamber of the Texas Legislature every two years.

Leading off on the list of assignments will be the Senate Committee on Administration, chaired by Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), who will also serve on Finance, Health and Human Services, Local Government, and Veteran Affairs.

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Hall recently filed Senate Bill (SB) 237 allowing Gov. Greg Abbott to enter Texas into border security compacts with other U.S. states without approval from Congress.

Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) will chair the committees on both Border Security and Natural Resources and Economic Development. He will also sit on Business and Commerce, State Affairs, and the Senate Special Committee on Redistricting. Birdwell chaired Border Security last session as well.

The Committee on Business and Commerce will continue to be chaired by Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown), who will also serve on Finance and State Affairs.

In a statement, Schwertner wrote that he was “honored” to chair again the committee, which “oversees a number of critical policy areas for the state of Texas, including electrical utilities, insurance, banking, alcoholic beverage regulation, technology, and telecommunications.”

Business and Finance will also serve as the upper chamber’s thumb on the pulse of the ERCOT market redesign. Last week, Schwertner criticized the Public Utility Commission’s new plan for the grid as“unnecessarily complex” and said it “puts the competitive market at risk without guaranteeing the delivery of new dispatchable generation.”

Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) will chair the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice while also serving on Finance. He is the only Democrat appointed by Patrick to chair a committee.

Whitmire has criticized the bail reform practices in his hometown of Houston, claiming that lax bail policies contribute to “the large number of murders” in the city. He also attended a National Day of Remembrance event for crime victims at the headquarters of Crime Stoppers of Houston, an organization vocal in its criticism of Houston’s bail policies.

He announced last November that he would run in Houston’s upcoming mayoral election on November 7, 2023.

Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) will continue to chair the now-Subcommittee on Higher Education and will chair the Committee on Education as well. Patrick has previously claimed that Creighton supports his plan to phase out tenure for public university professors deemed to be teaching “Critical Race Theory.”

Creighton will also serve on Business and Commerce, Finance, Jurisprudence, and the Special Committee on Redistricting.

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) will continue to chair the Committee on Health and Human Services. She will also serve as a member of Business and Commerce, Finance, Natural Resources and Economic Development, and Water, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs.

As committee chair in 2021, Kolhorst opened a 10-hour interim hearing on the state’s pandemic response and public health data practices.

Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) will now serve as the chair of both Jurisprudence and State Affairs. His committee assignments will also include Nominations, Natural Resources and Economic Development, Health and Human Services, and Finance.

Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) will be chair of the Committee on Finance and Special Committee on Redistricting and also serve on Criminal Justice. Huffman is the author of SB 1, the Senate’s version of the $288.7 billion draft budget for the 2024-25 biennium.

The Committee on Local Government will be chaired by Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston). His committee assignments include Criminal Justice, Education, Finance, and State Affairs. Like Whitmire, Bettencourt has been a vocal critic of the administration in the Houston area, recently criticizing Harris County for its mishandling of the November 2022 elections that resulted in what he called “real voter suppression.”

Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) is the chair of the Committee on Nominations. Her appointments include Business and Commerce, Finance, and Education.

Sen. Campbell has filed multiple education-related bills for pre-filing the 88th Legislature. Notably, SB 164 would require public schools to teach a course that would “focus on the principles underlying the United States form of government, the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the writings of the founding fathers of the United States.”

The Transportation Committee will be chaired by Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville). He will also serve on Business and Commerce, Finance, Local Government, and Redistricting.

Nichols has broken with his fellow Republicans in the Senate over a couple of issues in recent months, including support for creating rape and incest exceptions to Texas’ abortion laws and raising the age to purchase firearms in Texas to 21.

Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) will continue to serve as the chair of Veteran Affairs. He will also be serving as Vice Chair of Water, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs. His additional appointments will be Finance, Health and Human Services, Natural Resources and Economic Development, Transportation, and the Special Committee on Redistricting.

Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) will be serving as chair of Water, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs. He will also serve as vice chair of Health and Human Services. His committee appointments include Finance, State Affairs, Transportation, and the special committee on Redistricting.

Perry has been notable in his authorship of SB 1646, which prohibits children from being given puberty-suppressing drugs or undergoing surgical operation for the purpose of gender reassignment. It was passed by the Senate on April 29, 2021.

Several new senators have also received vice chairmanships for the 88th Legislative Session:  Sens. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) to Higher Education, Phil King (R-Weatherford) to Business and Commerce, Kevin Sparks (R-Midland) to Nominations, and Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) to Veteran Affairs.

The Legislature can vote on bills starting March 10. The legislative session will end on May 29.

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Cameron Abrams

Cameron Abrams is a reporter for The Texan. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Tabor College and a Master’s Degree from University of the Pacific, Cameron is finishing his doctoral studies where his research focuses on the postmodern philosophical influences in education. In his free time, you will find him listening to a podcast while training for an endurance running event.