AUSTIN — The start of the 85th Texas Legislature showed words still matter.
Denton’s newest representative to the Texas House of Representatives, Lynn Stucky, shouted “present” for the roll call and took his oath of office alongside 149 other legislators midday Tuesday.
The first meeting included several speeches filled with optimism before members of the Texas House and Senate get down to work. Before the end of May, the Legislature must adopt the budget that runs the state government for the next two years. It will consider other legislation, too.
Members of Stucky’s family were by his side for his first official vote as the District 64 representative. The House suspended its rules, as it does at the start of every session, to allow family members to stay with them on the House floor for the first meeting.
The body’s main order of business Tuesday after the swearing-in was to elect a speaker. Stucky said some constituents called him in hopes he would vote for a new speaker.
Although it’s important to listen to constituents, Stucky said he knows diplomacy also is an important part of being a successful representative.
“I want to do what’s best for District 64,” he said.
He and the other 149 representatives voted unanimously to re-elect Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, as speaker.
Individual votes of legislators are recorded on a lit board, as they have been for several sessions. Stucky knew his vote for speaker would be lit for all to see. The House speaker determines committee assignments. Legislators get most of their work done in committees, so those assignments can be important in being an effective representative, he said.
Committee assignments still are a week or two away. Stucky said he hopes to fill in where former state Rep. Myra Crownover left off after retiring from serving District 64. He hopes to be named to some of the committees Crownover served on, including higher education and appropriations, because he knows the work of those committees can be important to Denton, he said.
But he also knows he is a freshman legislator. Often, the more powerful committee assignments, such as appropriations, go to legislators with more experience and seniority.
Stucky and the staff members he has hired to help him got the keys Saturday to his Austin office in the Capitol Extension. Several returning legislators stopped by Stucky’s office Tuesday morning to wish him well. The telephones and the coffee machine were working Tuesday morning, but the computers weren’t turned on yet. That had to wait until after Stucky took the oath of office and officially became a member of the Texas House about 12:30 p.m.
A large flat-screen television also was up and running Tuesday morning. It served as a link between the office and the House floor, so the staff could keep an eye on the administering of the oath and other proceedings. For most of the morning, however, the channel was set to the broadcast of U.S. Senate confirmation hearings.
Some political pundits say this session of the Texas Legislature may be overshadowed by the transition of power in Washington, as President Barack Obama leaves office and President-elect Donald Trump begins his first term.
For the next week or two, Stucky said he expects to split his time between Austin and his home near Sanger. As the session progresses, however, he expects he may not be able to return home until Fridays to spend the weekend in the district. The regular session ends May 29.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.
HOW TO REACH LYNN STUCKY
The 85th session of the Texas Legislature began Tuesday. State Rep. Lynn Stucky is the new state representative for the greater Denton area. His home office has not been opened yet, but you can reach him and his staff in the District 64 office at the state Capitol.
Write: State Rep. Lynn Stucky, Texas House of Representatives, P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768