Ashley Burke, Chief of The Golden Hammer‘s Austin Bureau
Austin and Conroe, February 8 – On Thursday, February 4, 2021, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan announced the committee appointments for the Texas House during the 87th Legislative Session.
Two weeks ago, during the House Rules debate, Representative Brian Slaton, proposed an House Rules Amendment 3, that would ensure only Republicans were appointed Chairs of the most vital 11 committees. Surprisingly, that measure failed with only 11 of the 82 Republicans supporting the measure.
The only legislator in Montgomery County who supported the amendment, House Rules Amendment 3, was Republican Representative Steve Toth, a conservative.
Activists across the state were outraged. Leaders told us to wait for the appointments and not to fear the possibility of Speaker Phelan failing to neglect appointing courageous Republicans to these vital committees.
We were lied to. Over a third of Speaker Phelan’s committee appointments were handed to the Democrats.
The Two Committees about which activists should be the most excited in the House are:
- Calendars chaired by Dustin Burrows is packed with Republicans this session. Calendars assigns the order in which ALL bills will be voted on the House floor. In sessions past, it’s where good bills died and bad bills got pushed to the front of the line. It appears Speaker Phelan has moved some establishment players and Democrats from that vital committee and stacked the deck with actual Republicans. I have hope we can see some good things get through this session if they do not die in committee.
- Human Services chaired by James Frank. Most family protective services and child protective services bills will go through this committee. Chairman Frank has been a foster parent (and later an adoptive parent) to his two youngest sons. He has more experience on the issues with those agencies than just about any other legislator. If the other legislators on this committee stick to their campaign promises, then there will be a 5/4 split with most of these bills siding with Republicans.
Now the worrisome:
- Public Health. We are fortunate to have Chairwoman Stephanie Klick, who has been a nurse for over 35 years and has a long history of voting conservatively on bills that pass through this committee. Thanks to the virus of the Communist Party of China, we can expect to see countless bills go through that committee this session that infringe upon our rights as citizens. While the chair is a solid vote we can rely on in that committee, the rest of the members are downright terrifying. Dr. Oliverson in the past has been wonderful on vaccine bills in that committee but since COVID-19 my faith in him is dwindling. The rest of the committee is made up of Democrats and a couple establishment Republicans who are completely opposed to personal rights and who flirt with socialized medicine. I know Klick will fight tirelessly, but the numbers are overwhelmingly against her on her own committee.
- Public Education. This committee, chaired by Democrat Harold Dutton, is also a complete disaster. There isn’t a single conservative on the committee. School choice, a controversial Republican Party Priority, is essentially dead on arrival. Many of the disastrous mental health school bills that went through last session will be vastly expanded within committee. This committee also handles financing public schools as well as their programs. We have a lot of work ahead of us and we must to get organized now to be there in Austin to fight for our freedoms.
Here’s how our local Montgomery County elected representatives made out with committee assignments:
- Representative Will Metcalf of Conroe.
- House Administration Chairman. Oversees the House funds. Decides on appropriate workplace conduct for all House employees. Assigns parking spaces and gives out office furniture to members.
- International Relations and Economic Development.
- State Affairs.
- Representative Steve Toth of Conroe.
- Appropriations. Extremely important committee, has jurisdiction over all bills that require money from the state treasury.
- Agriculture and Livestock. Deals with issues related to agriculture, horticulture, and livestock as well as rural issues.
- Resolutions Calendars Vice Chairman. This committee decides the order in which resolutions are brought to the floor. Resolutions are not bills, they are mostly memorials, awards, and declarations that are a waste of time.
- Representative Cecil Bell of Magnolia.
- International Relations and Economic Development.
- Senator Brandon Creighton of Conroe.
- Chairman, Higher Education.
- Chairman, Select Committee on Ports.
- Business and Commerce.
- Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
- Senator Robert Nichols of Jacksonville.
- Chairman, Transportation.
- Chairman, Business and Commerce.
- Criminal Justice.
- Local Government.
“I am deeply grateful to Speaker Phelan for placing me on these highly influential House committees, each of which has jurisdiction on matters that reflect the interests of House District 16, the priorities of the State of Texas, and the robust operations of the House, its members, and the employees who power our state government,” said Representative Metcalf.
“Chair Metcalf has the trust and respect of all Texas House members needed to organize the House in these extraordinary times, and I have utmost confidence in his leadership,” said Speaker Dade Phelan. “The House would simply not be able to properly conduct the people’s business without the House Administration Committee, and in this role, Chair Metcalf will be integral to ensuring a smooth, organized and productive legislative session.”
Metcalf added, “Serving as Chair of the House Administration committee is a tremendous honor, and a responsibility that I do not take lightly. I appreciate the vote of confidence that has been placed in me by Speaker Phelan today, and am eager to get to work serving all Members of the House in this leadership capacity.”
“House District 15 is at the heart of Texas and will continue to lead our great state with even more influence this Legislative Session,” said Representative Toth. “I work for my constituents and I couldn’t be more thrilled to represent their interests on the issues driving our economy.”
Toth told The Golden Hammer over the weekend, “I’m very happy with the Committee appointments. I asked to stay on Appropriations and got it. I asked for Energy or Agriculture. Energy is the primary force to the Texas economy with Agriculture as a close second. Both, will be under fire from the hapless Harris Administration. Even more though, I extremely happy with the way the committees had a whole shake out. Homeland Security is now being run by a rock solid conservative, in James White with a total of 6 Republicans and 3 Democrats. State Affairs is 8 Republicans and 5 Democrats (2 of them are moderates). Calendars is 7 Republicans to 4 Democrats. Elections is Chaired by Briscoe Cain, the most conservative member of the 86th Session. I’m very encouraged.”
Citing the Texas Almanac, Toth expressed the importance of serving on the Committee on Agriculture & Livestock, “Texas is the number one state for farms and the number one state in amount of farmland. Family farms are critical to our Texas and Montgomery County economies. Not only that, this committee oversees forestry, a natural fit for our wooded district, home to Jones State Forest. When I was a kid, I worked with horses, spent summers working on a dairy farm, and dreamed of being a farmer. I’m thrilled to merge my past on the farm and my present as a job creator to further the economic interests of the 9th largest economy in the world.”
“I’m honored to continue working on the Appropriations Committee to make the fiscally responsible choices necessary to prevent tax increases and reignite the Texas miracle,” said Representative Toth.
“I’m grateful to Speaker Phelan for also trusting me to help lead a committee dealing with the issue most important to every member of the House — our great constituents,” said Vice Chair Toth of the Resolutions Calendar Committee. “As vice chairman of Resolutions Calendar, I look forward to working with Chairman Guillen and each of my colleagues to highlight the accomplishments of our hard-working constituents as an example and encouragement to our younger generation.”