Capitol Report: January 27, 2023

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is the presiding officer of the Senate, announced assignments for each of the thirty-one senators. Turnover in the Senate has been relatively low, and Lt. Gov. Patrick announced some changes before the session, so there was not too much surprise when he announced the assignments. Still, it is significant that after the retirement of the previous Chair, there is a new Chair of the budget-writing Senate Finance Committee: Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican from Houston. The Chair of Finance has considerable influence over which priorities receive funding in the two-year state budget.

Another notable announcement following a retirement was the appointment of Sen. Brandon Creighton, a Republican from Conroe, as Chair of the Senate Education Committee. Sen. Creighton will be the leader on Senate policy as it relates to both PK-12 and higher education.

Committee chairs have the power to easily kill a bill by refusing to give it a hearing or refusing to bring it up for a vote. They also have authority to advance the bills they deem most important. Notably, all but one of the Chairs in the Senate are Republicans.

As the Dallas Morning News reported, “As Lieutenant Governor, Patrick decides which of Texas’ 31 senators are assigned to each committee. With 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats comprising the Legislature’s upper chamber, the likelihood of Republicans having a firm grip on legislation this session was always high. Republicans will chair the most plum committees, where the details of some of the most influential and sweeping legislation will be hammered out during this year’s legislative session. Those include the committees that will shape the state budget, examine Texas’ public and higher education systems and work to strengthen Texas beleaguered electric grid.”

You can find the full list of Senate committee assignments here. If you have any questions about connecting with the senators from your area, please let us know.

House Speaker Dade Phelan is expected to announce the makeup of House committees over the next two weeks. While Republicans are likely to chair the most prestigious committees in the House, the House will have more bipartisan representation among its Chairs than the Senate.

Sharing TCA’s message
If you are talking to legislators or peers about bills that are most important to professional counselors in Texas, please make sure you have our Policy Priorities One-Pager. It highlights issues and concerns that are most important to our work at the Capitol this year.

Please remember that you can find our social media channels, legislative summaries and much more information in our TCA Advocacy Hub. We’ve added a couple of new materials to the Advocacy Hub this week so that you can use them as you visit with your legislators and their staff members:

Advocacy Days Start in March
Finally, remember to sign up to join your colleagues in Austin for one of our three Advocacy Days, starting in March. You can learn much more and sign up here.