Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick even further shrinks Senate Democrats’ clout, awards them couple plum posts

AUSTIN — Senate committee assignments unveiled Friday dealt yet another blow to Democrats’ clout in the chamber. The celebration dropped a effective chairman’s placement and a seat on the influential condition price range-crafting committee.

The changes appear just after Republicans already voted this 7 days to undercut Democrats’ energy by restricting their capacity to block legislation from coming to the ground.

The GOP holds a reliable vast majority in the Senate with 18 of the 31 seats. But Democrats have steadily grown their ranks in current a long time, such as in past November’s election when Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, ousted freshman Republican Sen. Pete Flores.

Patrick’s rule modifications and continuous reduction of Democrats’ sway in committee assignments underscore the chamber’s drift towards Washington-type, challenging-nosed partisanship, mentioned Rice College political scientist Mark Jones.

He noted that in 2013, which was previous Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s past session as the Senate’s presiding officer, Democrats held five committee chairmanships. The selection dropped to two in each and every of Patrick’s initially three classes as lieutenant governor. Now, Sen. John Whitmire of Houston, the body’s longest-serving member, is its only Democrat with a gavel, Jones claimed.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick takes his mask off before he presides over the State Senate on the second day of the 87th Texas legislature on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021 at the Texas state Capitol, in Austin, Texas. (Lynda M. González/The Dallas Morning News)

Twice, Patrick has minimized a threshold of votes desired to deliver a bill to the flooring, every single time cutting down the fraction just plenty of to assure there ended up adequate Republicans to dominate each roll call, the professor pointed out. On Wednesday, the after-vaunted “two-thirds rule,” which Patrick cajoled colleagues in 2015 to slice to a few-fifths, turned a 5-ninths threshold.

“Combined with the adoption of the five-ninths rule, the close to total GOP dominance of committee chairs underscores that the Texas Senate less than Patrick’s leadership is much closer in kind and functionality to the majoritarian U.S. Property than to the consensual Texas Senate that existed below his predecessors,” Jones explained. He ticked off David Dewhurst, a Republican, and Democratic previous lieutenant governors Bob Bullock and Invoice Hobby.

On Wednesday, Patrick defended lowering the vote thresholds for bringing expenses to the flooring

“We’re the the greater part. Elections matter,” he described at a Texas Community Plan Foundation event. “If we do not adjust the principles right now … the Democrats would be managing the Senate.”

Patrick spokeswoman Sherry Sylvester, requested Friday to react to Jones’ remark that Patrick’s steps have amped up partisanship in Austin, replied in an e mail, “Standing by the statement we issued nowadays on this.”

She was referring to a Patrick news release in which he stated, “The committee appointments I am earning currently contact on all senators — Republicans and Democrats, freshmen and senior users — to perform an integral function in crafting community coverage that will guarantee our condition remains robust and each individual Texan can prosper.”

In individuals appointments, Patrick yet again tapped Whitmire to direct the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. But Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville, who in 2019 was the only other Democrat to head a Senate panel, will not have a chairmanship this year.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick talks about a deployment of National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border at a news conference at the state Capitol on June 21, 2019.

Final time, Lucio chaired an intergovernmental affairs panel that the Senate did away with this yr.

This session, no Senate committee chairs are Black or Hispanic. In 2019, Lucio, who is Hispanic, was the only a person.

Also, the all-essential Finance Committee, which writes a price range and handles tax expenses, beforehand had 4 Democrats. Now there are three.

Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, continues to helm Finance. She’s a person of two North Texans encouraging lead powerful committees. Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, yet again will operate the business and field panel.

Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, is vice chairman of Greater Schooling.

Sen. Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas, will be vice chair of Administration. Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, is vice chair of Nominations. Sen. Bob Corridor, R-Edgewood, lost his Agriculture chairmanship. The panel was disbanded, its obligations folded into a committee managing drinking water and rural affairs troubles.

Evaluating these adjustments, Rice’s Jones claimed, “The Metroplex also takes a modest symbolic strike, with Senators Corridor and Paxton the only non-freshman Republicans to not chair a committee.”