The 85th Legislative Session kicked off earlier this month with much less fan-fare than in years following a gubernatorial election. Being the mid-term for our Governor and Lt. Governor means there are no inaugural festivities at the state level. Of course, at the Federal level, there was a plethora of celebrations, and protests, surrounding our new President Donald Trump.
Each member of the legislature is assigned to a number of subject matter committees, responsible for reviewing legislation that pertains to their issue of interest early in the process, before the bills are sent to the Senate floor. Committee assignments for the 85thLegislature were released, and I am happy to report the following assignments: I will continue to serve on the Senate Finance Committee, and I received a promotion to Vice-Chair on the Health and Human Services Committee. In tune with the needs of Senate District 19, I will serve on the Education, and Veteran Affairs & Border Security Committees. The Chairs that head the committees remained the same, with the exception of the Senate Administration Committee, which will now be chaired by my colleague Senator Lois Kolkhorst from Brenham.
Constitutionally, the only bill the legislature is required to pass is our state budget - we have the 10th largest budget in the world! The other 500-600 bills we will pass this session, while necessary to varying degrees, are not necessarily required. The House and the Senate have each filed our respective budgets as House Bill 1 (HB 1), and Senate Bill 1 (SB 1). I consider the top budget items to be student enrollment growth in our public schools, Child Protective Services, foster care, and one of our largest budget drivers, Medicaid. As the bills stand now, they reflect the tighter economy Texas is currently experiencing due to the downturn in the oil and gas industry and sales taxes, which is a major source of Texas’ revenue.
HB 1 and SB 1 will be worked on in each respective chamber as the session progresses, and I look forward to advocating for District 19 as a member of the Finance Committee, and of course, keeping you up to date on our progress in the weeks ahead.