Texas Speaker Joe Straus announces House committee assignments

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About three weeks after the Texas Senate made a similar announcement, Speaker Joe Straus announced Wednesday where House members would be devoting their time this session.

In the past, Straus, R-San Antonio, has announced committee membership at roughly the same time, taking on average 29.5 days to make the announcement. This did not keep some legislators from getting anxious, as Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, called for Straus to release the committee assignments Tuesday, claiming the speaker was delaying the legislative process.

Most committee chairperson and vice chairperson positions saw some kind of change. Few remained the same from the last session.

Two committees that are expected to play a big role in the upcoming session are the House Committee on Appropriations, which deals with the budget, and the House Committee on Public Education. Both committee chairmen retired last session and will operate under new leadership in the coming months.

On Appropriations, Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, will serve as chairman with Rep. Oscar Longoria, D-Mission, as his vice chairman. Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, was named chairman of the House Committee on Public Education. Rep. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, will serve as his vice chairman.

The House Committee on Appropriations plans to begin meeting as early as 7:30 a.m. Monday to hear testimony about the budget. The Senate Finance Committee has been meeting for weeks, doing the same.

Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, will continue to chair the State Affairs Committee, which is set to see controversial bills, such as Senate bills 4 and 6, related to eliminating sanctuary cities and regulating bathroom usage, respectively.

Another notable change includes Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, who was named the chairman of the Public Health Committee. He formerly served as chairman of the House Select Committee on Mental Health. Speaker Straus has named mental health reform as one of his priorities this session.

Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, was named the chairman of the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence. This selection is notable because Moody supports legislation that could legalize marijuana use.

Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, who has been indicted on three counts of corruption charges, no longer holds a vice chairwoman position but maintained her spot on the Appropriations Committee due to her seniority. She has served in the Texas House for more than 20 years.

Straus added two additional committees to what already existed last session. The two committees are the Select Committee on State and Federal Power and Responsibility and the Select Committee on Texas Ports, Innovation and Infrastructure.

For a full list of committee assignments for the 85th legislative session, click here. Click on the links for a list of assignments for legislators in Houston, Dallas and Austin.

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Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson is a recent transplant to the Austin area from Houston, Texas, where she started with Community Impact Newspaper in May 2016. Donaldson started covering public education in Cy-Fair ISD, the third largest school district in the state of Texas, and then she transitioned into her role as the company's legislative reporter, providing statehouse coverage for all 22 editions. Currently, she reports on the city of Round Rock and Round Rock ISD for the Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto edition. Donaldson graduated from the University of Missouri with bachelor's degrees in magazine journalism and political science.

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