Texas Legislature 2019

Political hardball, committee assignments spark joy and drama alike in the Texas Legislature

In this episode of our documentary series "Under the Dome," House and Senate leaders make their highly anticipated committee assignments — and one longtime lawmaker ends up in the doghouse.

Under the Dome

A mini-documentary series chronicling the cast of characters passing bills in the Texas Capitol.

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It's the list lawmakers anxiously await at the start of every legislative session: committee assignments. They not only determine what issues members will be focused on for the rest of the session, but they serve as a guide of who's in good with leadership.

House and Senate leaders consider several factors when assigning members to committees, from seniority to personal interests to the geography of the district.

In the House, new Speaker Dennis Bonnen survived his maiden attempt at assigning committees largely unscathed. The 150-member chamber celebrated his choices, which included an emphasis on bipartisanship.

In the Senate, Kel Seliger learned he was on the outs with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick when he lost his chairmanship on the Senate Higher Education Committee. Patrick instead made Seliger chair of a newly created Agriculture Committee.

Seliger called the snub “a very clear warning” that Republicans better toe the line. In response, Sherry Sylvester — a senior Patrick aide — said if Seliger thought his new post was beneath him, he should let Patrick appoint someone else. Patrick did so anyway after Seliger went on a West Texas radio show and suggested Sylvester could kiss his "back end."

After all that drama, the House and Senate are organized to begin considering bills. Watch how it unfolded in the latest episode of our mini-documentary series, "Under the Dome."

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