January 15 , 2019

Inside this edition of Capitol Roundup:
Dennis Bonnen elected House Speaker

State's top three elected officials promise unity ahead of 86th Legislature

Five candidates file in special election to replace Rep. Justin Rodriguez in House District 125

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Quote of the Week

"[Craddick] was entering public service when I was just entering the world."

-House Speaker Dennis Bonnen
Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) made the comment about Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland) during Bonnen's acceptance speech for the role of House Speaker. Craddick has served in the House since 1969 when he was just one of nine Republicans elected to the House that year. He served as speaker of the House from 2003-2009. 
Texas House elects Bonnen as speaker for the 86th Legislature

House members on Tuesday elected Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) as speaker of the House for the 86th Texas Legislature, marking the first time in a decade that the lower chamber will have a leader not named Straus. 

Bonnen replaced former House Speaker Joe Straus, who announced in October 2017 that he would not seek re-election. Straus, a Republican elected in 2009, served a record-tying five terms in the House speaker position. Bonnen became only the fourth speaker of the House in 26 years and only the third Republican speaker in 146 years. 

Speaker Dennis Bonnen
Bonnen pledged to keep the Legislature from getting "caught up in things that don't lead to real results." He declared public school funding as his top priority, along with school safety, combating human trafficking and reforming property tax collection. 
"You will be reminded every day," Bonnen told the newly sworn members Tuesday.

Bonnen has served in the House for over 20 years, representing a district that encompasses southern Brazoria County and the entirety of Matagorda County. First elected to the Legislature at the age of 24, Bonnen joined the House in 1997 and began his twelfth term of office this year. 

Gov. Greg Abbott praised Bonnen's "tenacity" and reinforced some of his legislative priorities in a speech to the House. "You have the ability - and we will achieve it - that we are going to reform school finance in the state of Texas this session," Abbott said. "And we are going to reform property taxes in Texas this session."
'Big Three' leaders in Austin present unified front on 'very bold agenda' as session begins

The state's top three elected leaders - Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen - have promised Texans that they're entering the 86th Legislature on the same page.

Known around Austin as the "Big Three," Abbott, Bonnen, and Patrick held a joint news conference the morning after the Legislature convened during which they laid out their priorities for the following 140 days, namely reforming school finance and property tax law.

"We are here today to send a very strong, profound and unequivocal message - that the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker are working in collaboration together on a very bold agenda that will be transformative for the state of Texas," Abbott said.  "The task ahead of us is clear - we must reform our school finance system, limit the growth of skyrocketing property taxes, and provide greater opportunities for every Texan.

Lt. Gov. Patrick, Gov. Abbott, and Speaker Bonnen

Patrick noted that the move to present their priorities as a united trio was unprecedented in Austin, and he emphasized their potential as a single bloc. 

"If the three of us are aligned that we're going to accomplish a mission and pass legislation, it happens," Patrick said. "And if the three of us are aligned that something isn't going to pass, it doesn't happen."

The press conference also came the day after Bonnen was selected by his peers in the House as its next speaker. Bonnen said he had been in talks with Abbott and Patrick since November when he announced he had enough votes to win the position. 

While Patrick and former Speaker Joe Straus often publicly disagreed last session over issues like property tax reform and the so-called bathroom bill advanced by Patrick, the lieutenant governor expressed optimism over the new relationship.

"It's a  new experience with me for a speaker," Patrick told the Texas Tribune. "I'm more relaxed this session around because I feel like I have a partner on the other side I can work with...when we disagree, we're gonna do it professionally, and it's not gonna be on the front page."

Candidates file in special election for Rodriguez seat in House District 125

Five candidates - four Democrats and one Republican - have signed up for the Feb. 12 special election to fill the seat of former state Rep. Justin Rodriguez. Early voting begins Jan. 28. 

Rep. Justin Rodriguez
After Rodriguez (D-San Antonio) was appointed last week to a post as Bexar County commissioner, he triggered the special election to fill his District 125 seat. 
Rodriguez was appointed Friday to replace Paul Elizondo, a longtime county commissioner who recently passed away. 

The Democrats running to fill the seat include: Steve Huerta, a social justice activist;  Ray Lopez, a former member of the San Antonio City Council;  Coda Rayo-Garza, an education policy expert;  Art Reyna, who represented HD-125 from 1997 to 2003. The Republican is Fred Rangel, a former member of the State Republican Executive Committee who ran for Texas GOP vice chair last year but lost. 

The District 125 race will be the fourth special election since the November general elections. Two more elections are taking place on Jan. 29, when voters will choose replacements for former Democratic state Reps. Carol Alvarado of Houston and Joe Pickett of El Paso. 

January 2019
FRI 18th - Board meeting
February 2019
FRI 15th - OCAs submission deadline
TUE 26th - Legislative Day
April 2019
FRI 26th - TBB Board meeting
May 2019
MON 27th - Last Day of 86th Legislature
June 2019
WED 5th - SAT 8th - Convention @ Jackson Hole, WY
August 2019
THU 22nd - OCA awards @ Georgetown, TX
FRI 23rd - Board meeting
November 2019
FRI 15th - Board meeting