County Judge Mark Henry on Monday removed Commissioner Ken Clark from a long-held spot as delegate to the Houston-Galveston Area Council and took the post himself.

During Monday’s commissioner court meeting, Clark said he was surprised and asked Henry whether he’d done something to prompt the change.

“I’ve been going pretty diligently for a decade or longer,” Clark said, before listing the council committees on which he serves. “I thought I’d been doing a fair job on keeping the court up to date on various issues. I have developed a rapport with numerous people at H-GAC.”

Henry said his reasons for taking up the post had nothing to do with Clark and were more because of the results of the November elections.

When Harris County Judge Ed Emmett lost his re-election bid to Democrat Lina Hidalgo, Henry became the longest tenured judge among the counties that belong to the area council.

Emmett had urged him to get more involved with the council because of that seniority, Henry said

“It was suggested to me by the outgoing Harris County judge that I personally get more involved,” Henry said.

Henry initially proposed Clark be named as an alternate to the council. Clark, however, declined that spot.

“I’m happy for the judge to be the delegate, and if someone else wants to be the alternate, I’m good with that, too,” Clark said. “I can always repurpose my third Tuesday of every month and focus on other things as well.”

The court named Commissioner Joe Giusti as alternate appointee. The vote was unanimous.

The area council is made up of leaders from 13 counties and directs millions of dollars in grants for economic development, transportation planning and public safety initiatives.

DEATH PENALTY DECISION

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday halted the execution of a man accused of killing a 13-month-old baby girl over questions about the science used to convict him.

Six members of the nine-member court signed an order saying Blaine Milam’s sentence should be reviewed “because of recent changes in the science pertaining to bite mark comparisons and recent changes in the law pertaining to the issue of intellectual disability.”

One of the three members who voted against the stay was newly sworn appeals court Judge Michelle Slaughter, a former district court judge in Galveston County.

Slaughter dissented without writing an opinion about why.

Slaughter’s vote in her first opportunity to decide on a death penalty case was notable. Elsa Alcala, the Republican who Slaughter was elected in November to replace, ended her tenure on the bench as a critic of the death penalty and had pushed for the Texas Supreme Court to consider whether executions are constitutional.

Some observers are watching to see whether anyone else on the court will take Alcala’s place as a voice for death penalty reform.

NOTEBOOK

U.S. Rep. Randy Weber was among a group of representatives who Tuesday proposed a bill that would allow federal workers to tap into retiring savings without penalty to cope with lost wages during the ongoing government shutdown. The bill was referred to a committee. ... Weber’s office said he was forgoing a paycheck during the shutdown, which entered its 26th day on Wednesday. ... The Texas House of Representatives and Senate are about $4 billion apart on their proposed state budgets for the next two years, according to proposals released this week. The House plan of $247 billion includes a $7 billion increase in state education funding. ... The legislative session ends in 130 days.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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