Committees -- Winners and Losers
Thu February 12, 2009 3:45 pm

The big winners, of course, were the ABCs. Each of the eleven received a chairmanship. Six are on Calendars.

The chairs:

Pitts/Appropriations: as expected

Cook/Environmental Regulation: A story made the rounds yesterday that he wasn't happy, but he lives in an area that is affected by coal plants and cement plants, and he has a green majority that can take the committee in a new direction. I think he'll grow to like it.

Geren/House Administration: as expected

Keffer/Energy Resources: as expected

Kuempel/Licensing and Procedure: very interesting appointment. He'll have to deal with gambling.

Solomons/State Affairs: This session, Solomons will be at the front mike and Phil King will be at the back mike.

The Craddick D's did not fare well:

--Dukes is back on Appropriations
--Pena lost his chairmanship but is on Ways & Means
--Dutton lost his chairmanship. He's on Corrections and Pub Ed
--Edwards wasn't around last session. He's on Appropriations
--Flores lost his chairmanship but is on Appropriations
--Giddings lost her chairmanship but is on Appropriations
--Guillen lost his seat on Appropriations (vice-chair) and is on Border & Intergovernmental Affairs and Transportation. Border doesn't do anything, and Transportation doesn't matter much when there is only one major highway in Starr County. Big loser.
--T. King lost his chairmanship. He is on Culture, Recreation, and Tourism and Natural Resources. At least these are useful in a rural district.
--McClendon got the San Antonio exemption from Craddick D punishment. She has a chairmanship (Rules and Resolutions) and seats on Appropriations and Transportation.
--Turner is not a happy camper. The former speaker pro-tem used his seniority to get on State Affairs, but he is not on Appropriations. His other committee is Business and Industry. He doesn't have a portfolio for his pet issues such as CHIP.

Readers will recall that the Craddick D's worried that the mainstream Democrats would seek retribution against them for their apostasy, despite assurances to the contrary. The fate of the Craddick D's, above, suggests that they had good reason to worry.

Who else is in the penalty box?

--Leo Berman. Stripped of chairmanship of Elections, no longer on the committee.
--Warren Chisum. Out as chairman of Appropriations. Back on Environmental Regulation, which he once chaired. The man who likes to impose his morality views on others will have lots of chances to do so when alcohol and gambling issues come before Licensing & Administrative Procedures.
--Joe Crabb. Paid the price for his treatment of Democrats during 2003 redistricting. He's on Agriculture & Livestock.
--Dan Gattis. Ran for speaker. Didn't win. Won't be on the Appropriations conference committee this year. He's on Business and Industry and Technology, Economic Development, & Workforce. He did want to serve on Technology. I don't know what happened here, but Gattis must have really made somebody mad. This is a lost session for him, on the way to the Senate.
--Phil King. No surprise here. Public Enemy #1. Lost his chairmanship of Regulated Industries; now sits on Ways & Means and Public Safety.
--Jose Menendez. I don't get it. On day one, he was close enough to Straus that he gave the nominating speech for speaker. Now he is off Appropriations and on Licensing & Administrative Procedures and State Affairs. What did he do to deserve this?
--Geanie Morrison. Lost her chairmanship of Higher Ed to Dan Branch and won't have any influence at all.
--Beverly Woolley. Bounced from chairmanship of Calendars. Ended up on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence and Pensions, Investments, & Financial Services. Due for a long exile.

Other members worth commenting about:

* Alma Allen. Good for Straus for giving her a chance to shine. She is a former State Board of Education member.

* Bonnen. Frankly, I'm surprised that he got a chairmanship (Land and Resource Management). He was a very controversial chair of Environmental Reg with little patience for the other side. But he is a good legislator and a shrewd observer of the process. He may go from the frying pan into the fire if his committee gets Eminent Domain.

* Burnam. Free at last. He made it to Environmental Reg.

* Coleman. As with Dunnam, seems underutilized as chair of County Affairs. How does that employ his talents?

* Y. Davis. Said to be upset over Urban Affairs chairmanship, thereby justifying her nickname (Why-Vonne). Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

* Dunnam. This is the guy who held the Democrats together and all he gets is seats on Environmental Reg and Transportation? Is Straus trying to prove to the Republicans that Dunnam doesn't own him? At least he got a Select Committee on the stimulus package.

* D. Howard. Higher Ed is a good appointment for Austin; Culture, Recreation, and Tourism not so good. Underutilized.

* Gallego. Well, Criminal Jurisprudence needed a good lawyer to lead it, but Straus swept Appropriations clean of anyone who had ever served on the conference committee before.

* Isett. Appropriations and Insurance. More importantly, he is chair of Sunset. Will he get to handle the bills?

* Kolkhorst. She was with Gattis, yet she landed on her feet with a great chairmanship, Public Health, AND a seat on Calendars.

* Madden/McReynolds. This is a great pairing, similar to Eissler/Hochberg on Public Ed. I'm glad to see McReynolds, a thoroughly decent man, rewarded with a chairmanship, but he and Madden will work together smoothly.

* Otto. Appropriations and Ways & Means. Straus made full use of talent here.

* Martinez-Fischer. I thought he would do better (vice-chair of Insurance, Natural Resources, Local & Content). No San Antonio bonus. Ditto Castro.

* D. Miller. He beat Nathan Macias and was an ABC ally all the way. A very early pledge to Straus, he was rewarded with Appropriations and Natural Resources -- great appointments for Comal County. Got the suburban San Antonio bonus.

* Patrick. Like Donna Howard, she is going to be an excellent member. Straus duplicated Craddick's appointments of Public and Higher Ed.

* Pickett. Great appointment as chair of Transportation. He's a reformer who is trusted by the members on the subject he's in charge of. Kudos to former Transportation chairman Clyde Alexander for the choice.

* Ritter. Good member. Bad choice for chairman of Natural Resources. No East Texan should chair that committee. No interbasin transfer this session.

* T. Smith. Proof that Straus did not have an enemies list. Smith was a former ABC who jumped aboard the sinking Craddick ship. He also had several difficult conversations with Straus. Here he is, chairman of Elections. Why? Because he was a good member with no ax to grind.

* Strama. Skillful younger Democrat who deserves his shot (Chairman of Technology, Economic Development, and Workforce).

* Thompson. A legend in her own time. A full dance card (Insurance, Licensing & Administrative Procedures vice-chair, Local & Consent chair), and she has earned it.

* Villarreal. Another recipient of the San Antonio bonus: seats on Appropriations and Ways & Means.

Summing up, I think Straus kept his promises. He has a penalty box, but it's about one-tenth the size of Craddick's. He rewarded members based on talent. He has given just about everybody a chance to do what they are big enough to do. That's what the House is supposed to be like.

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