83rd Legislative Session

Texas 83rd Legislative Session Shows Strong Conservative Leadership

The following is a digest of a recent article by Mike Hailey of Capitol Inside. The Texas Lobby Group is posting this summary of the 83rd Texas legislative session as a public service for Texas lobbyists, Texas government officials and consultants, and other interested parties.

Both the Texas House and Senate have powerful conservative leadership at the top this session, with the House being led by Speaker Joe Straus’ leadership team. Mike Hailey’s Power Rankings tell the story of a strongly conservative legislative session. Four of the top five spots are Republicans, with the GOP filling 10 of the top 15 rankings.

Senators Tommy Williams of the Woodlands and Dan Patrick of Houston were appointed as chairmen of the Senate Finance and Education Committee, while Senator Jane Nelson – one of the most conservative senators for two decades – is the chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. She will likely be an difficult force to overcome for expanded gambling in our state.

Speaker Straus is now one of the state’s three most powerful leaders, with Republicans filling eight of the top power slots in the House. However, look for major sparks and confrontations with the 9th most powerful representative, Trey Martinez Fischer, a fiery San Antonio Democrat who has been loud and clear in his opposition to speaker Strauss in the past. Indeed, some are wondering whether or not Martinez Fischer may find himself at odds with fellow Dems who may feel his posturing has some self-promotion in it.

A number of Straus lieutenants are going to be wielding power this session, including Harvey Hilderbran, Jimmie Don Aycock, Brandon Creighton, and Drew Darby. All have either secured key committee positions or are likely candidates. Creighton will be battleing Jim Murphy of Houston for the position of GOP Caucus chairman.

The Democrats hold 5 of the top 15 positions of power in the senate, but they only hold 14 of 50 spots on the list of the 50 most powerful House members. Democratic State Representative Senfronia Thompson of Houston is entering her 40th year as a state representative, and has been Joe Straus’ most vocal supporter from the opposing party. Don’t underestimate her power to influence the process as chair of the Local and Consent Calendars Committee, a committee that can hold legislation hostage are kill it for leverage.

It promises to be an exciting session ahead. Read Mike Hailey’s full analysis as the Capitol Inside Website.