New Speaker Downgrades Darby's Position in House
AUSTIN, TX — State Representative Drew Darby, who represents District 72 which includes the swath of west Texas from Ballinger through San Angelo to Big Lake and Big Spring, didn’t get a committee chairmanship from new House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton). Darby ran a formidable campaign for house speaker prior to this session but was out-maneuvered by the late declaration for the position by Bonnen.
Committee assignments are appointed by the house speaker and are seen as indications of which members are in favor with the speaker. They are often used in backroom deals to gain political support for the speaker himself and the speaker’s agenda.
For this session, Darby was named the Vice Chairman of the Business and Industry Committee and will sit as a member of the Energy Resources Committee.
This is somewhat a demotion from last session where Darby sat on the powerful Ways & Means Committee that created tax policy for the State. Darby was also the chairman of the Energy Resources Committee last session, and he also sat on the Redistricting Committee.
Bonnen announced committee assignments yesterday.
Four of the committees are the most powerful. Among them, the committee that decides where to spend State money is Appropriations, where Bonnen named State Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) to return as its chairman this session.
Ways and Means, the committee that creates tax policy, will be chaired by Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock). Last session, Bonnen was the Ways and Means Chairman.
Rep. Dade Felon (R-Beaumont) will chair the State Affairs Committee. State Affairs oversees how state departments are operated and oversees the regulation of electricity utilities, pipelines, and telecommunications.
Joe Moody (R-El Paso) was appointed speaker pro-tem, replacing Bonnen who held that position last session under former Speaker Joe Straus.
The Calendars Committee decides if a bill reaches the floor of the House for a vote, and the timeline and order of each bill introduced. Bonnen replaced Duncan Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) with Four Price (R-Amarillo).
Like Darby, Price ran for speaker, but withdrew his candidacy and endorsed Bonnen the weekend prior to Bonnen’s announcement that Bonnen had the votes secured to win the speakership.
Bonnen won support to be elected the speaker by enlisting the support of what Capitol reporter Harvey Kronberg calls “The Young Turks.” These are members with two- or three-year terms under their belt who bristled under former Speaker Joe Straus who preferred to appoint establishment old-timers to chair his committees.
According to Kronberg, these younger representatives, those elected to the House since 2012, make up a large portion of the group that met with Bonnen in October to launch Bonnen’s insurgent campaign for speaker.
Darby was elected in 2006 and his first term was in 2007.
The Young Turks, as Kronberg described them, didn’t want the speaker of the 86th session to be “Joe Straus Version 2.0.” Many of the new chairmen only have two or three terms under their belt, Kronberg explained.
Darby ran a formidable campaign for speaker and was the last one to withdraw from the race the morning Bonnen announced he had the votes, two days after Four Price withdrew and endorsed Bonnen.
Harvey Kronberg reports from the State Capitol on his website, The Quorum Report.
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