Tarrant takes a hit in state House committee assignments

Posted Friday, Feb. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Committee assignments for Tarrant's House members

Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth

Criminal Jurisprudence

Energy Resources

Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake

Government Efficiency and Reform

International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs

Rep. Nicole Collier

Defense and Veterans Affairs

Local and Consent Calendars

Public Health

Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth

Chair, House Administration

Calendars

Licensing and Administrative Procedures

State Affairs

Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth

Land and Resource Management

Special Purpose Districts

Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth

Elections

Human Services

Rules and Resolutions

Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth

County Affairs

Special Purpose Districts

Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington

Vice-chair, Higher Education

Appropriations

Rules and Resolutions

Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Hurst

County Affairs

Special Purpose Districts

Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie

Environmental Regulation

Insurance

Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington

Defense and Veterans Affairs

Public Health

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AUSTIN -- House Speaker Joe Straus distributed much-anticipated committee assignments Thursday, returning top lieutenant Charlie Geren of Fort Worth to a powerful chairmanship and elevating Rep. Diane Patrick of Arlington to be vice chairwoman of the House panel that oversees colleges and universities.

Overall, Tarrant County seemingly took a hit in power and prestige, reflecting the delegation's loss of seniority and experience after the 2012 elections. The expanded 11-member delegation has seven new members and only four representatives who participated in the last legislative session, in 2011.

Under the new committee assignments, Tarrant County will have only one chairmanship, compared with two in 2011 and three in 2009, and will have no representation on committees that deal directly with the big three issues cited as top priorities this session: transportation, public education and water. Most of the delegation's freshman representatives, as expected, wound up on lower-profile committees.

Nevertheless, Tarrant County lawmakers - newcomers as well as veterans - generally expressed satisfaction with their committees and said the assignments will enable them to represent issues important to their constituents.

"We'll be treated fairly," Geren said when asked about the county's influence in the House. "I wouldn't worry about that."

In announcing the committees, Straus said he considered "a range of criteria," including seniority, geographic diversity and each member's "individual strengths." Members of the 150-member House submitted their preference in advance, but many acknowledged that they wouldn't wind up with their first choice.

Three Tarrant County freshmen - Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth and Jonathan Stickland, R-Hurst - were appointed to a new committee that Straus created to deal with the proliferation of special purpose districts, such as municipal utility districts, in populous areas.

Geren, a Fort Worth Republican who was instrumental in helping Straus win the speakership in 2009, was returned to the chairmanship of the House Administration Committee, which oversees the inner workings of the House. Geren also remains on the State Affairs Committee, an upper-tier panel that deals with myriad often-controversial issues, and the Calendars Committee, which decides which bill goes to the House floor for a vote.

He is also a member of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, which, among other things, determines the fate of gambling legislation.

Patrick drew two prestigious assignments in being promoted vice chairman of the House Higher Education Committee and in being returned the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, was named to the Energy Resources Committee, which he said he requested as a top priority to help influence production practices in North Texas. He was also appointed to the Criminal Justice Committee.

Rep. Stephanie Klick, a former nurse who chaired the Tarrant County Republican Party, said her experience is well-suited to her assignments to the House Human Services Committee and the Election Committee. And Goldman said his appointment to the House Committee on Land and Resource Management will give him oversight of the School Land Board, which generates $14.2 billion toward public education.

Another freshman, Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, won a seat on the Government Efficiency and Reform Committee, which he said will enable him to pursue a priority issue of improving transparency in government.

Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, who has served four terms in the House and is a staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act, was named to the Public Health Committee, as was another Tarrant County member, Rep. Nicole Collier, a freshman Democrat. Collier, a Fort Worth attorney, and Zedler, a former healthcare professional, will also serve together on the Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, was named to the Environmental Regulation Committee and will also serve on the Insurance Committee. Dave Montgomery is the Star-Telegram's Austin bureau chief.

Twitter: @daveymontgomery

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