No Chairs for Travis County in House Committees

Local delegation still scores six vice-chairs

Every session, Speaker Joe Straus takes his time in announcing his committee assignments. Three weeks into the 84th Legislature, he's finally sorted through seniority picks and placated wounded egos enough to release the decision-making lineups.

Speaker Joe Straus, finally announces his committee appointments for the 84th Legislature (Photo by Jana Birchum)

In a statement, Straus said that his committee assignments “reflect the makeup of the House. They also reflect a collaborative and results-oriented culture that has worked very well in recent years. The House is a place that encourages Members to find common ground and build consensus around serious solutions.”

The 38 committees and two select committees see major changes in leadership, with 24 new chairs, including 10 who previously lead other committees. Straus explained that "the work ahead is too important for this to be a status-quo session."

However, it's not all shake-up, particularly on some of the more significant committees. Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, (as was widely predicted) rises to take charge of the all-important Appropriations, seconded by ranking committee Dem Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston. Meanwhile Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, still leads the ultimate tribunal on whether a bill lives or dies, Calendars. Similarly, with school finance and the fallout from last session's major accountability reforms in House Bill 5 both burning issues, Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, stays in charge of Public Education.

There is also a shocking contrast in bipartisanship and collegiality to the seemingly begrudging inclusion of Dems on the Senate side. There are even committees with a completely Democratic leadership, including Criminal Jurisprudence (with Abel Herrero and Joe Moody respectively chairing and vice-chairing), Culture and Tourism (Ryan Guillen and local lawmaker Dawnna Dukes), and County Affairs (Garnet Coleman and Joe Farias).

As for the Travis County delegation, the five Democrats and sole Republican don't get any chairmanships, but Dukes and her colleague Donna Howard, as two of the most seasoned members of the House, used their seniority to get appointed to Appropriations. As for the rest of the delegation, here's the full breakdown:

Dawnna Dukes (D): Culture, Recreation & Tourism (vice-chair), Emerging Issues in Texas Law Enforcement (vice-chair), Appropriations

Donna Howard (D): Higher Education (vice-chair); Appropriations; House Administration

Celia Israel (D): Elections; Transportation.

Elliott Naishtat (D): Public Health (vice-chair); Human Services.

Eddie Rodriguez (D): Environmental Regulation (vice-chair); Calendars; Economic & Small Business Development.

Paul Workman (R): State and Federal Power and Responsibility (vice-chair); Insurance; Natural Resources.

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More 84th Legislature
Lecturers Sue to Block Campus Carry
Lecturers Sue to Block Campus Carry
Do Texas concealed handgun rules break the Second Amendment?

Richard Whittaker, July 7, 2016

Texas Supremes: Not Our Job to Fix School Finance
Texas Supremes: Not Our Job to Fix School Finance
Long-awaited ruling says school funding system constitutional

Richard Whittaker, May 13, 2016

More Texas House of Representatives
Dawnna Dukes' Charges Dropped
Dawnna Dukes' Charges Dropped
13 felonies gone, two misdemeanors resolved

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 24, 2017

Houston Voters Say No to
Houston Voters Say No to "Robin Hood"
HISD rejects making school finance payments

Richard Whittaker, Nov. 15, 2016

More by Richard Whittaker
Alex Garland's <i>Civil War</i> Will World Premiere at SXSW
Alex Garland's Civil War Will World Premiere at SXSW
Eagerly awaited thriller stars Kirsten Dunst, Nick Offerman

Feb. 22, 2024

Cassette Roulette, Some Bitchcraft, and More Arts Events
Cassette Roulette, Some Bitchcraft, and More Arts Events
Get arty this week with our recommended happenings

Feb. 23, 2024


84th Legislature, Texas House of Representatives, Joe Straus, Dawnna Dukes, Donna Howard, Celia Israel, Elliott Naishtat, Eddie Rodriguez, Paul Workman, House Committees

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle