Last Week in the Legislature

Starting Slowly 

By Kenneth Besserman
Director of Government Affairs and Special Counsel

January 27, 2023 | Issue 2

AUSTIN - January 26 marked the end of the second week of the 88th session of the Texas Legislature. To date, this legislative session is beginning like innumerable sessions in the past, a lot of celebrations, honorary resolutions, memorial resolutions, the Governor and Lt. Governor being inaugurated, a House Speaker election, and House debate on rule to kick off. Bill filings continue apace with an expected deluge of bills to be filed in February and March before the March 10 bill filing deadline.

In the Senate

As in past sessions, the Senate is getting off to a quicker start in naming committee chairs and committee appointments. You can see the committee assignments here. This week, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick named his committee chairs. There were not too many surprises other than Patrick naming Senators Bryan Hughes, Bryan Birdwell and Joan Huffman to chair two committees each. While it is not unprecedented for one senator to chair multiple committees in a session, rarely, if ever, have three senators each chaired two committees.

Also See:

Legislative Session Page

Member Involvement Guide

2023 Legislative Priorities

In addition, Patrick did continue the long Senate tradition of naming a senator from the minority party (Democrats) to a chair. Senator John Whitmire will once again chair the Criminal Justice Committee as he has for the last several sessions. However, Patrick did tell the press this week that if Whitmire wins his election for Mayor of Houston in May, and subsequently resigns from the Senate, Patrick would not replace Whitmire with a Democratic chair. So, it appears that another long-standing Senate tradition of bipartisanship may be ending soon.


In the House, Speaker Dade Phelan is beginning to have conversations with the other 149 members of the House to determine their committee wishes. This is a long and arduous task. Members of the House are required to turn in their committee assignment wish list cards next week. Then the Speaker and his staff will take a week or two to make assignments. That process will likely be completed in the first or second week of February.

Once committee assignments are made, the House committees can formally organize and start hearing House bills once those bills are referred to committee. The Senate, on the other hand, will start hearing bills as soon as the Lt. Governor refers bills to committees. That process should happen very soon.

$30 Billion Extra

Since the opening day of session on January 10, there has been quite a bit of discussion and interest both in Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s revenue estimate and the House and Senate budgets. Hegar’s revenue estimate put the Texas surplus at over $30 billion – and likely to go higher as sales tax and oil and gas taxes continue to skyrocket and with additional federal funds coming into Texas. There will be a very large surplus for legislators to address.

The House- and Senate-introduced budgets were very similar. Both budgets, while undoubtedly in their formative stages, left significant space for additional spending on property tax reform, infrastructure spending and many other needs. Overriding the whole session is how large of a property tax relief should be passed and in what form; proposals about an increase in the homestead exemption to additional state funding for schools, which would compress the need for higher local property taxes, to sending checks directly to homeowners. All of these debates should make for some interesting debates and horse-trading in the coming weeks and months.

Governor Greg Abbott is scheduled to give his State of the State address at the end of January. Abbott has stressed that property tax reform is probably the most important issue on his agenda, but there is expected to be some proposals laid out regarding school choice, increased border security funding, ERCOT/power grid reform and some other issues that will put Abbott back into the national spotlight. With a presidential election around the corner – and rumors that Abbott may test the waters – he will want this session and legislature to address some issues that can keep him in the news.

One of the most interesting items of the week was Patrick stating that he now intends to run for reelection in 2026. Many insiders thought that the Lt. Governor would not run again in 2026 or that he might even vacate the seat after the 2023 session. So, with his decision to run again in 2026, that puts a lot of senators’ decisions about their future in question. There was some thought that a few sitting senators might want to run for Lt. Governor. All election jockeying is now on hold for another year or two until people formally file papers to run for office. Stay tuned for a lot more election gossip as the session progresses.

Next week, we will take a closer look at the TXCPA legislative agenda, what we are doing to advance and protect the profession, and how you can help our pipeline legislation.

Only 121 days to go.






Texas Members of Congress
In Need of a Key Person:

Rep. Greg Casar
(D-35) Austin
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(D-30) Dallas
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Rep. Morgan Luttrell
(R-8) Magnolia
Rep. Nathaniel Moran
(R-1) Longview
Rep. Keith Self
(R-3) Greenville

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