Texas Lobbyist News 2020

Early Voting. Early voting began on Tuesday in Texas for voters to cast their ballots before the March 3 Primary Election. Early voting will last for 10 days, ending on Tuesday, February 28th. In addition to local and regional elections, primary voters will cast ballots for 10 statewide positions, including the U.S. Senate, the Railroad Commissioner, and candidates for 8 seats on the state’s highest courts, the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals. Runoff elections, if necessary, will be held on May 25.

Sen. Watson to Resign. On Monday, Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin) announced that he would resign from the Texas Senate effective at midnight, April 30. Watson is leaving office to become the first dean of the University of Houston’s new Hobby School of Public Affairs. “This is a chance to build a world-class public affairs and policy school essentially from the ground up,” Watson said in a statement. “Only a unique opportunity to serve this state — and a compelling platform for that service — would cause me to leave.” Watson is the former mayor of the City of Austin and has represented Bastrop and Travis Counties in the Texas Senate since 2007. Watson’s resignation will trigger a special election to fill the rest of his unexpired term, which ends in 2023. Governor Abbott has not yet set a date for the special election.

Speaker Appoints New Members to Committees. On Tuesday, Speaker Greg Bonnen (R-Brazoria) appointed newly elected house members to committees:

  • Gates (R-Rosenberg) – Appropriations; Pensions, Investments, & Financial Services
  • Birabil (D-Dallas) – Higher Education; Urban Affairs
  • Eastman (D-Houston) – Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence; Natural Resources

Interim Committee Hearings. House Committees will meet for the following upcoming interim hearings:

  • Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services: March 9 in Austin
  • Redistricting: March 24 in Laredo
  • Higher Education: March 25 in Austin

Senate Committees will meet for the following upcoming interim hearings:

  • Veteran Affairs & Border Security: February 24 in Harlingen
  • Finance: February 25 in Austin
  • Transportation: February 26 in Austin
  • State Affairs: February 26 in Austin
  • Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety: March 10 in Austin
  • Education: March 11 in Austin
  • Finance: March 25 in Austin

More information on committee meetings can be found here for the House and the Senate.