With the 83rd Texas Legislature in full swing, local representatives say they are anxious to tackle their committee assignments.
“Serving is an honor,” said freshman Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Frisco, who was just elected to the House this past November for the new District 106. “The work you do on committee is very, very important.”
Fallon recounted the process: the first reading of a bill, moving to committee and if it passes out of the committee, a second and third reading before the House.
“If it’s passed, you hope you have a companion bill in the Senate,” he said. “If they are the same, it goes to the governor to be signed. If it’s different, you try to work out differences.”
Fallon said it was important for himself and others to participate in the committees and know what is going on and what is said and discussed about the various bills brought forth.
Fallon is serving on the human services and technology committees this session.
Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, was recently appointed chairman of the House Committee on Corrections. This committee has oversight on such issues as the incarceration and rehabilitation of convicted felons, the operation and management of state correctional facilities, juvenile offenders, procedures of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and other policy areas.
Parker served on the Corrections Committee during the previous session before being chosen to lead it this session, his fourth term.
He could not be reached for comment, but he issued a prepared statement about his appointment.
“It is a tremendous honor to lead the work of the Corrections Committee for the 83rd Legislative Session,” Parker stated in a recent news release. “I am committed to putting forward thoughtful work in managing the committee and advancing legislation that will empower our correctional system to operate more effectively and efficiently. With this role, I have been given a rare opportunity to improve our correctional processes in order to further safeguard the security of all our families, and it is a challenge that I am humbled to accept.”
The way the process works is members of the Legislature either have a chance to pick their committee or have it assigned, Fallon said. There are 100 picks reserved for seniority, for those who have been serving the longest. Fallon said those in the top 30 or 40 are likely going to land top committee picks.
The rest are speaker choices, Fallon said, and those picks are often determined by a number of factors.
“They want a good balance I think, a good flavor and balance of the state, including region, personal experiences, party affiliation,” he said.
Despite not getting his top picks, Fallon said there is a lot of advice for those willing to listen.
“Committee assignments are like life,” he said. “They could be better, could be worse, but you have to make the most of it; build a reputation for trustworthiness, loyalty, hard work.”
Fallon said that even if someone doesn’t get the committee they want, they still can attend the meetings and ask questions, they just have no vote. Doing so can go a long way toward a committee pick next session if that person is still in office, not that you want to get too ahead of yourself, Fallon said.
“You’re in the 83rd Legislature, not the 84th, so you want to get your work done now for sure,” he said.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Following is a list Denton County elected officials selected for committee membership:
• Rep. Myra Crownover (District 64): appropriations, calendars, energy resources (vice chairwoman)
• Rep. Tan Parker: corrections (chairman), criminal procedure reform, land and resource management
• Sen. Jane Nelson: Committee of the Whole Senate, finance, health and human services (chairwoman), nominations, open government
• Sen. Craig Estes: agriculture, rural affairs and homeland security (chairman), natural resources (vice chairman), business and commerce, finance
• Rep. Pat Fallon (District 106): human services, technology
• Rep. Ron Simmons (District 65): elections, homeland security and public safety
• U.S. Rep Michael Burgess (District 26): House energy and commerce, subcommittee on health (vice chairman), subcommittee on oversight and investigations (vice chairman), subcommittee on energy and power