AUSTIN, TX – With the inauguration of Governor Greg Abbott and the swearing in of Lt. Gov. and President of the Texas Senate Dan Patrick earlier this week, and the beginning of the 84th Legislative Session last Tuesday, our newly elected state government has begun to take shape. While the many activities of both the Senate and the House during the first week of session have been largely ceremonial in nature, according to State Rep. Chris Paddie, the agenda for the 84th Legislature will include issues dealing with the growing population of the state, public education, transportation, water, and other infrastructure, as well as devising a more efficient budget while maintaining or lowering taxes.
The Texas House of Representatives was called to order last Tuesday by Secretary of State Nandita Berry, who then addressed the House, as is tradition. In her speech, Berry citied the diversity of the state and stressed to law makers that they are beholden to 26.5 million Texans, the welfare of whom should be of paramount importance in the legislature. A similar sentiment was echoed by Speaker Joe Straus who said, following his re-election, the “House belongs to no special interest, no single interest. It belongs to almost 27 million Texans, all of the people we represent. And their scorecard is the only one that matters.” During the first week in session, the House issued a number of congratulatory resolutions to organizations and individuals for outstanding accomplishments.
Additionally, a number of regulatory items ranging from accounting to caucasus had to be addressed in a House Keeping Resolution. Prior to the introduction of any substantive bills to the floor, the House must pass rules for the session, and as of the end of the first week, law makers were unable to do so. A number of amendments to the rules have been presented; among the most controversial refers to the discretion given to conference committees. Under the proposed rule, conference committees would be required to receive permission from both full houses before making certain changes to bills, a move that could potentially stall important legislation including the budget. This is just one of several controversies that must settled before the Legislature is able to proceed with it first and for most objective of writing the laws that keep us safe and prosperous.
Unlike the Texas House, the Senate did not begin their session with an address from a state official, but rather with an invocation from Senior Pastor Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church in Houston. Following Pastor Riggle’s invocation, the Oath-of-Office was administered to eight first-term members of the Senate. The Senate too had to address a number of housekeeping items in its first day of work and did so in the form of a caucus report presented as a resolution to the floor. The resolution that passed referred to Senate Officers, compensation, procedure, and a number of other crucial administrative details. Another of the first orders of business for the Senate was electing a President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, longtime law maker and well know public servant, was quickly nominated, seconded, and elected. Among the final actions of the Senate during their first week in session, was a warm farewell to outgoing Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. In addition, the House and Senate issued several concurrent resolutions this week regarding the canvassing of votes from the Nov. 4 General Election, adjournment of the Legislature, and a joint address by outgoing Governor Rick Perry.
With Texas being ranked near the bottom, nationally, in education and oil prices falling to their lowest prices in years, the legislature is charged with preserving the economic prosperity of the state, increasing our education standards, and tackling issues related to population growth, all while balancing the budget and keeping taxes low. The 84th Legislative Session is primed to be a marker of progress in the State of Texas.
Legislative Director, Texas Federation of College Republicans