AUSTIN (October 4, 2012)—Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has shuffled a senior Democrat out of the higher education committee chairmanship and promoted conservative Republicans to key posts in a move to create a more conservative state Senate.
Dewhurst also announced Thursday he has eliminated two committees and one sub-committee to save money.
Dewhurst presides over the Senate and chooses which lawmakers chair the committees that develop legislation.
A committee chairman can determine if a law moves forward or stalls in committee.
Dewhurst removed senior Democratic Sen. Judith Zaffirini as chair of the higher education committee and replaced her with Republican Sen. Kel Seliger.
He also promoted conservative commentator Sen. Dan Patrick to chair the education committee, in charge of public school.
Committee Chair Appointments
(Texas Lt. Governor’s Office)
Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) is appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education to maximize the benefits of his interest in education and workforce development and his ability to work with all Members. He recently served as Chair of the Senate Committee on Redistricting.
Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) is appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation, succeeding Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) who was recently appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance. Senator Nichols has a distinguished background in Texas transportation, having served as a Commissioner of the Texas Department of Transportation.
Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), whose leadership of the Senate Committee on Higher Education has benefitted Texas students, is appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Government Organization, where important Sunset legislation – including bills relating to the Higher Education Coordinating Board – will be considered this Session.
Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), who has ably served as Chair of the Senate Committee on Government Organization, is appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Open Government to work on rewriting appropriate sections of the Open Government laws and increase transparency in state government operations in this age of modern communications.
Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) is appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security, with the important responsibility of Homeland Security transferred to his Committee. This new responsibility will compliment Senator Estes' personal priorities and military presence in his District.
Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) has been appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, due to his strong interest in improving public education for children, instituting innovative change and providing for more school choice by parents. Senator Patrick succeeds Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) who announced her retirement from the Texas Senate in September 2011.
Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-McAllen) is appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, which deals with local government issues.
Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) is appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Nominations, which handles the important job of considering Gubernatorial appointments.
Senator Royce West (D-Dallas), who served as Chair of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, is appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Jurisprudence where his strong legal background will benefit the Senate as well as the Judiciary.
Senator Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) is appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development to help grow the Texas economy and create new jobs. This position was formerly filled by Senator Mike Jackson (R-La Porte).