The first month of the Texas legislative session typically moves pretty slowly, but one of the first signs things are about to pick up is the announcement of House and Senate committee assignments.
Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen on Wednesday announced which committees each of the 150 members would serve on over the next five months.
State Rep. Greg Bonnen, Dennis’ brother, will serve on the House Appropriations Committee and the Insurance Committee. Both committees are worth watching. Appropriations writes the House version of the state budget, while the insurance committee is likely to take up windstorm insurance reform.
“Through serving on these vital committees, I am now in a position to join my colleagues in addressing the imperative needs of school finance and property tax reform,” Bonnen said. “I will also continue to devote time and effort to protecting consumers in the insurance market.”
State Rep. Mayes Middleton, a freshman, will serve on the House Elections Committee, the Local and Consent Calendar Committee and the Urban Affairs Committee.
“I am pleased with my appointments and grateful to Speaker Bonnen for entrusting me with them,” Middleton said. “On each committee, I will have an opportunity to advance the priorities of the citizens who elected me.”
Middleton’s interests on the committees included “addressing voter fraud, protecting citizens from local overreach, and keeping a close watch on bills that pass through the House’s ‘fast-track’ calendar,” he said.
The spot on the urban affairs committee could put Middleton in the middle of discussions involving local control. Last session, the committee reviewed bills related to local regulation of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and municipal tree ordinances. The committee has also been at the center of reviewing the state’s response to Hurricane Harvey.
State Sen. Larry Taylor was reappointed as chairman of the Education Committee, where school finance reform will be front and center.
Taylor has been the chairman of the education committee since 2015.
“The Legislature has made it clear that this session belongs to Texas children,” Taylor said. “We will pass legislation to reform public school finance, and I look forward to working with the new and returning members of the committee to ensure an innovative, equitable and efficient system for all Texas kids.”
State Sen. Brandon Creighton was named the chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee.
WEBER’S MINORITY VOTES
U.S. Rep. Randy Weber was among the few lawmakers on the losing side of a couple of controversial votes in Congress lately.
The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday rejecting any proposals by President Donald Trump to withdraw the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The bill passed by a wide bipartisan margin, with 357 representatives voting for the measure, and 22 voting against.
Weber was one of the 22 to vote against it.
In a statement to The Daily News, Weber said he supported NATO, but also agreed with Trump’s calls for members of the alliance to spend more on defense.
However, he said he didn’t believe in the spirit of the House bill.
“The fact is, this bill is, as others have been, is yet another political stunt by the Democrats designed to drag down the President,” Weber said. “This is gamesmanship, and I’m tired of it; they need to quit treating important issues like political points to be scored.”
Also last week, Weber was one of 53 representatives voting against a bill disapproving a White House agreement to weaken sanctions against some Russian companies tied to President Vladimir Putin.
Believe it or not, the local election season has already started. Jan. 16 was the first day candidates could start filing for places, and officials could start putting proposals on May ballots. Things we already know are going to be up for a vote — Seawall Boulevard parking in Galveston and a $145 million bond election in League City. There should also be several school board and city council elections as well ... Election Day is May 4. ... State Rep. Mayes Middleton announced Wednesday he had joined the House Rural Caucus. ... There are 123 days remaining in the Texas legislative session.