Sunday, January 20, 2013

Senate committee assignments out

While we don't yet know who will chair or populate the various Texas House committees related to criminal justice, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst announced Senate committee assignments (pdf) on Friday, including the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. Dewhurst had already announced the Chairs. Senator John Whitmire will remain Criminal Justice Chair, but his week was not without some extracurricular turmoil.

Following a series of mostly hagiographic remembrances from his colleagues on the Senate floor, Jay Root at the Texas Tribune rewarded the chairman for his forty years of public service with a searing journalistic colonoscopy titled, "For Dean of Senate: Public and Private Blur." It's a fascinating if unsympathetic account of one of the most powerful Texas politicians governing the criminal justice system, and a fine piece of historical journalism. The capitol crowd lapped it up, then everybody asked themselves, "Is there anybody in that district who could beat him in an election?" Then they all shrugged and got back to work because for now, John Whitmire's not going anywhere and his committee still has a vast, overinflated criminal-justice system to run, and perhaps reform.

The committee with which he'll share that responsibility altered in composition slightly compared to last session, but has the same overall partisan makeup. Rookie Sen. Charles Schwertner, who won retiring Sen. Steve Ogden's seat, replaced Rodney Ellis, who will chair the Open Government Committee, and sophomore Sen. José Rodríguez replaced Glenn Hegar, who this session will chair Nominations. Sen. Joan Huffman, a former district judge from Galveston, will be vice chair, as she was for the last biennium. The rest of the committee is rounded out by senators who served on it last term: Dan Patrick, John Carona, and Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa,

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