Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.
Eight Texas House members will chair committees for the first time in the 85th Texas Legislature, while 11 returning chairs are now leading new committees.
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus announced the committee chairs Thursday. Among the new chairmen: State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, who led the House Higher Education Committee last session, will spearhead the House's budget planning as the new chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Zerwas succeeds John Otto, who retired following the 2015 session.
“We want to utilize Members’ strengths and allow them to work on issues that matter to their districts,” Straus, R-San Antonio, said in a statement. “These assignments reflect the diversity of the Texas House.”
In addition to naming 38 standing committees in the House, Straus established two select committees: The Select Committee on State and Federal Power and Responsibility and the Select Committee on Texas Ports, Innovation & Infrastructure.
The Select Committee on State and Federal Power and Responsibility Committee will monitor actions of the federal government, examine unfunded federal mandates and propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Here are some other notable committee placements:
- State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, will remain chairman of the State Affairs Committee, and state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, will still chair the Calendars Committee.
- Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, replaces former Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton, as chairman of the Public Health Committee.
- State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, chairman of the Transportation Committee last session, will be the Environmental Regulation Committee chairman this session. Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, is the new chairwoman of the Transportation Committee.
- State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, who had said she wanted to remain on an appropriations subcommittee that deals with health care despite being recently indicted on abuse-of-office charges, did manage to hold on to a spot on the Appropriations Committee. That committee's subcommittee appointments have yet to be named.