Joe Straus has unveiled his committee assignments for the 84th Legislature, and the most shocking thing about his announcement, in my opinion, is the Speaker’s passing comment that there are still 118 days left to go. Really? Surely we’ve been at this longer than three weeks. Nandita Berry’s opening-day speech alone took at least two days, as I recall. 

The assignments are laid out here (PDF). The chairs are a balanced group, in terms of partisanship and demographics they pretty well mirror the makeup of the House, if not the state. There are a lot of new chairs, including on Appropriations (where John Otto will succeed Jim Pitts, who retired), Ways and Means (Dennis Bonnen succeeds Harvey Hildebran, who stepped down to run for comptroller), and Higher Education (John Zerwas, succeeding Dan Branch, who ran for attorney general). New chairs will bring new management styles, of course, and their individual views may prove relevant as session proceeds; as Aman Batheja notes at the Tribune, Zerwas supports the Texas DREAM Act, which a number of Republicans have pledged to repeal.

Overall, though, it doesn’t seem like Straus is trying to stack the deck on the looming policy questions of the session. Nor do I see much evidence of political patronage or revenge. The Tea Party groups may think it’s suspicious that Giovanni Capriglione, known apostate, was named to the powerful Appropriations committee, but if we learned anything from that imbroglio, it’s that Capriglione can count, which is more than one can say for some of his compatriots. Conversely, Jonathan Stickland’s appointment to Special Districts would seem like retribution if not for the fact that it’s a seniority appointment, not a speaker’s appointment, meaning that Stickland requested that job. Any other gossip? Leave it in the comments.