Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TX House Speaker Joe Straus Names Committees

Speaker Joe Straus announced appointments to House Committee positions today. With House Committees staffed the various committees can begin to consider legislation in earnest. Progress of the various House bills that have been filed can be tracked on the House Calendars.

The House Appropriations Committee chaired by Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, will immediately begin to consider a proposed 2011-2012 budget the Legislative Budget Board sent to House members last month. (available to the public online)
The Legislative Budget Board’s budget proposal released to House members last month will cut $31.1 billion from current spending, even before accounting for population growth.

The budget, drafted for the House, will slash education funding by $9.8 billion, while the student population is projected to grow by 80,000 students each year. Several primary and secondary education programs are recommended for elimination, including: pre-k early start grants; Texas reading, math and science initiatives; criminal history background reviews; and science labs.

Higher education is slated to lose $1.7 billion in funding including significant cuts to the Texas Equalization Grants and Texas Grants student aid programs.

Other budget recommendations include reducing prison populations through early release of prisoners, cutting Medicaid reimbursements to doctors, hospitals and nursing home by 10 percent, and eliminating family practice and rural public health physician rotations.
The Elections committee chaired by Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, and the Select Committee on Voter Identification and Voter Fraud chaired by Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, will take up the Voter Government Issued Photo Identification bill. Keying off Gov. Rick Perry's declaration that this legislation is an emergency, the Senate last month voted to bypassed the usual committee process and turned itself into a committee of the whole to pass voter identification legislation (SB14) on a party line vote. The Committees will consider the House's version - HB624.
The idea behind this legislation is that to combat in person voting voter impersonation fraud voters must present Government Issued Photo Identification to election clerks.

Any voter who does not have a photo ID, or who election clerks consider does not look like his or her ID photo will not be allowed to vote a regular ballot. Those voters will only be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. Those voters who do vote a provisional ballot must then present their Government Issued Photo Identification to the County Election office by the sixth day after the election or their provisional ballot will not be counted.
The Redistricting Committee chaired by Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, will take up the task of redrawing various district lines. The decennial census for Texas totaled to 25,145,561 people living in the state in the first half of 2010 for a 20.6% increase over the 2000 population count, courtesy of the burgeoning Texas Hispanic and Black populations.
Based on the 2010 Census count of 25,145,561 people, the ideal population of a Texas congressional district is 698,488, the ideal senate district is 811,147, the ideal state house district is 167,637, and the ideal State Board of Education district is 1,676,371.

Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution calls for a census of the nation's population every 10 years to apportion the U.S. House of Representatives seats among the states. The 2010 apportionment winner is Texas with four additional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Texas also gains four more presidential electoral votes and will be eligible for a greater share of federal money for various services and programs.

While the Texas House Redistricting Committee will begin preliminary work this week, serious redistricting efforts can't take place until the Census Bureau releases its detailed census breakdown. The Census Bureau expects to release the detailed county and block level population data needed to redistrict in late February or early March. (Census data release schedule - Texas redistricting information)
Committee Chair Assignments:
Committee Chair Party City
Agriculture &Livestock Rick Hardcastle R Vernon
Appropriations Jim Pitts R Waxahachie
Border &Intergovernmental Affairs Veronica Gonzales D McAllen
Business &Industry Joe Deshotel D Beaumont
Calendars Todd Hunter R Corpus Christi
Corrections Jerry Madden R Richardson
County Affairs Garnet Coleman D Houston
Criminal Jurisprudence Pete Gallego D Alpine
Culture, Recreation &Tourism Ryan Guillen D Rio Grande City
Defense &Veterans' Affairs Joe Pickett D El Paso
Economic &Small Business Development John Davis R Houston
Elections Larry Taylor R Friendswood
Energy Resources Jim Keffer R Eastland
Environmental Regulation Wayne Smith R Baytown
General Investigating &Ethics Chuck Hopson R Jacksonville
Government Efficiency &Reform William Bill Callegari R Katy
Higher Education Dan Branch R Dallas
Homeland Security &Public Safety Sid Miller R Stephenville
House Administration Charlie Geren R Fort Worth
Human Services Richard Peña Raymond D Laredo
Insurance John Smithee R Amarillo
Judiciary &Civil Jurisprudence Jim Jackson R Carrollton
Land &Resource Management Rene Oliveira D Brownsville
Licensing &Administrative Procedures Mike Hamilton R Mauriceville
Local &Consent Calendars Senfronia Thompson D Houston
Natural Resources Allan Ritter R Nederland
Pensions, Investments &Financial Services Vicki Truitt R Keller
Public Education Rob Eissler R The Woodlands
Public Health Lois Kolkhorst R Brenham
Redistricting Burt Solomons R Carrollton
Rules &Resolutions Ruth Jones McClendon D San Antonio
Select Committee on Election Contest Todd Hunter R Corpus Christi
Select Committee on Oversight and HHS
Eligibility System
Fred Brown R College Station
Select Committee on State Sovereignty Brandon Creighton R Conroe
Select Committee on Voter Identification
and Voter Fraud
Dennis Bonnen R Angleton
State Affairs Byron Cook R Corsicana
Technology Aaron Peña R Edinburg
Transportation Larry Phillips R Sherman
Urban Affairs Harold Dutton Jr D Houston
Ways &Means Harvey Hilderbran R Kerrville

For Complete Committee Membership Rosters, Click Here.

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