Featured, standing from left: Rep. Óscar Longoria, D-La Joya, and Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, D-Brownsville, join their 148 fellow state representatives in taking the oath of office on the Texas House of Representatives House Chamber on Tuesday, January 12, 2021.
Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY
Valley state representatives land spots on key committees that will shape transportation, health, higher education, energy, redistricting, and the state budget, announces attorney Omar Ochoa
The Rio Grande Valley’s eight-member state representatives on Thursday, February 4, 2021, were appointed to serve on House of Representatives committees that will shape transportation, public health, higher education, energy, redistricting, the state budget and other issues important to deep South Texas, attorney Omar Ochoa has announced.
The appointments were publicly released earlier that day by Speaker of the House Dade Phelan, R-Orange.
In the Texas Legislature, a committee is a group of legislators appointed by the presiding officer of the House or the Senate to which proposed legislation is referred or a specific task is assigned.
Every proposed legislative measure, which is known as a bill, must pass out of the committee in order to have the best chance to become a state law or policy.
A bill is a type of legislative measure that requires passage by both chambers (House of Representatives and Senate) of the Texas Legislature and action by the governor in order to become effective. A bill is the primary means used to create and change the laws of the state.
“From the Valley, we have such experienced and accomplished legislative delegations in the Senate and the House of Representatives,” Ochoa noted. “Combined with their extensive experiences and achievements in the Texas Legislature, our region’s lawmakers will continue to successfully use their committee assignments to promote, protect and defend our best interests in deep South Texas.”
Now that House committee appointments have been announced by Phelan, the legislative process can significantly move forward. Soon, every bill that has been or will be filed will be sent by Phelan and the Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to House and Senate committees, respectively.
The chair of each House and Senate committee decides which legislative measure assigned to their committee will be scheduled for a public hearing
The House committee assignments for the Rio Grande Valley state representative delegation follow. The Chair of a committee is the legislator appointed to preside over a legislative committee.
REP. TERRY CANALES, D-EDINBURG
Chair, Committee on Transportation
Member, Committee on International Relations and Economic Development
REP. ALEX DOMÍNGUEZ, D-BROWNSVILLE
Vice-Chair, Committee on Environmental Regulation
Vice-Chair, Local and Consent Calendars Committee
Member, Committee on Appropriations
REP. R.D. “BOBBY’ GUERRA, D-MCALLEN
Vice-Chair, Committee on Public Health
Member, Committee on Ways and Means
Member, Local and Consent Calendars
REP. RYAN GUILLÉN, D-RIO GRANDE CITY
Chair, Committee on Resolutions
Member, Agriculture, and Livestock
Member, Licensing and Administrative Procedures
REP. ÓSCAR LONGORIA, D-LA JOYA
Member, County Affairs
Member, Energy Resources
REP. EDDIE LUCIO, III, D-BROWNSVILLE
Member, Natural Resources
Member, State Affairs
REP. ARMANDO “MANDO” MARTÍNEZ, D-WESLACO
Member, Culture, Recreation and Tourism
REP. SERGIO MUÑOZ, JR., D-MISSION
Member, Higher Education
Member, Pensions, Investments, & Financial Services
SPEAKER PHELAN SAYS TOP LEADERSHIP APPOINTMENTS OF HOUSE COMMITTEES REFLECT THE DEMOGRAPHICS AND POLITICS OF THE STATE
In announcing the House committee appointments, Speaker of the House Dade Phelan, R-Orange, said the top leadership positions reflect the race, gender, ethnicity, and Republican and Democratic political parties of Texas.
According to Phelan’s analysis of the House committee assignments:
• The current makeup of the Texas House of Representatives is 82 Republicans and 67 Democrats, with one (1) vacant seat);
• Including the Speaker Pro Tempore, a leadership position equivalent to a chair, twenty-one (21) chairs are Republicans and fourteen (14) are Democrats;
• Consistent with House Rules, which were adopted by members during the first week of the legislative session, there are thirty-four (34) standing committees to which members have been appointed. Of those committees:
•• Five (5) chairs and fourteen (14) vice-chairs are women;
•• Fourteen (14) chairs and twenty-one (21) vice-chairs are Black, Hispanic, or Asian-American;
•• Eleven (11) chairs and seven (7) vice-chairs represent rural areas of the state; and
•• Twenty four (24) chairs and twenty-seven (27) vice-chairs represent urban areas of the state.
Phelan said he elected not to form Select Committees, thereby giving deference (respect) to the committee structure approved by members in the House Rules.
In the interest of a fair and objective process, Phelan added that he chose not to appoint chairs of other committees to simultaneously serve on the House Committee on Calendars. The House Committee on Calendars is a committee in the House of Representatives that schedules or declines to schedule bills for hearing by the full House of Representatives. There is no equivalent committee in the Senate.
“The State of Texas has arrived at a pivotal moment in its history – one that requires us as lawmakers to work with one another, build consensus and leverage the diverse strengths and backgrounds of those within our chamber to confront the unique challenges ahead,” said Phelan. “I have dedicated my speakership to creating a member-driven process that affords each of my colleagues a seat at the decision-making table, and have made these committee assignments to reflect their preferences, talents, and where I believe they will have the greatest impact on the issues to come before this body.”
Phelan’s committee assignments were made with a number of considerations in mind, namely, the interests, skillsets, and expressed committee preferences of each member, the needs and priorities of the state’s rural and urban areas, and the diverse demographics of the House’s membership.
In the weeks leading up to the Thursday, February 4, 2021 announcement, Phelan held individual meetings with lawmakers to discuss their committee preferences as well as their priorities for the legislative session.
Highlighting the need to invest in the future of House leadership, Phelan added, “The nature of this session will be anything but status quo (the same as always), and the House stands to benefit from members assuming new roles and responsibilities and the fresh perspectives these appointments provide. I have the utmost confidence that each of these appointees will excel in the positions they’ve been selected for, and I thank them in advance for the work they will do.”
Twelve (12) members have been selected to chair committees for the first time.
Consistent with House practice in preceding sessions, members are considered eligible to serve as a chair or vice-chair in their third and second terms respectively, making one hundred four (104) members eligible for a chair and one hundred thirty (130) members eligible for a vice-chair this session.
More than forty (40) percent of the House’s membership has served less than three terms.
The full lists of House committee assignments organized by members and committees are attached here.
BIOGRAPHY, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE DADE PHELAN
Dade Phelan, R-Orange, is the 76th Speaker of the Texas House of Representative and is currently serving his fourth two-year term as State Representative for House District 21.
Prior to serving as Speaker, he served as Chair of the House Committee on State Affairs, as Vice-Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, as a member of the Calendars, Appropriations, and Elections Committees as well as the Select Committee on Ports, Innovation, and Infrastructure.
In 2019, Phelan was named by Texas Monthly as one of the Best Legislators of the 86th legislative session. He has earned numerous additional accolades in recognition of his legislative service, including Capitol Inside’s “Most Valuable Sophomore Member” in 2017 and as one of their “Most Outstanding Freshmen Legislators” in 2015.
Phelan has been named Legislative Champion by the Boys and Girls Club of Texas, Legislator of the Year by the Texas Apartment Association, Guardian of Small Business by the National Federation of Independent Business, Most Valuable Legislator by the Texas Association of Community Schools, a Fighter for Free Enterprise by the Texas Association of Business and the 2019 Mental Health Champion by Mental Health America.
Phelan is the former president and two-time gubernatorial appointee to the Lower Neches Valley Authority.
His board service includes the Texas Lyceum, Southeast Texas CASA, Golden Triangle Coastal Conservation Association, The Jefferson Theater, St. Anne Catholic Church, and Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas.
In addition to his duties as Speaker of the House, Phelan works as a real estate developer at his family’s fourth-generation commercial real estate development firm, which owns and manages retail, industrial, and office properties in Texas and Arkansas.
His wife, Kim, is a solo practitioner attorney and together they have four sons, Ford, Mack, Hank, and Luke. He and his family reside together in Southeast Texas, where Phelan was born and raised.
He received his bachelor’s degree in Government and Business from The University of Texas at Austin.
(For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).