Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced his state Senate committee appointments for 2019 last Friday and made some notable changes.
One of the biggest shakeups in Texas politics so far this legislative session–state Senator Kel Seliger’s committee changes.
For the last nine years, Sen. Seliger has prioritized education and finance for the High Plains, South Plains, and Permian Basin in the state Senate.
Now, it seems his focus will be shifted away from the 90 school districts in district 31, toward agriculture.
Sen. Seliger said he will miss some of the footholds he has lost, but he will do his best in his new committee appointments.
Sen. Seliger will chair the new Senate Agriculture Committee and said it is important work for the district.
“The importance of Texas agriculture to the state economy and the fact that I represent the most productive agricultural area certainly in the state of Texas and maybe the country,” Sen. Seliger said.
However, Sen. Seliger has lost his longtime position as the Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, as well as his membership.
He is no longer on the education committee or the powerful finance committee, which makes recommendations for the state budget and levying taxes.
“I’m dedicated to public education and higher education. I will have some bills to introduce in both and it doesn’t change my interest in those two subjects,” said Sen. Seliger.
He said he believes the political action committee “Empower Texans” might be behind the switch-up.
“Because they can’t beat me at the ballot box, I think they think they can try to marginalize me and they can’t.”
Not to mention, he has a soured relationship with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, whom he did not endorse for re-election.
“You know, he won’t talk about his motivations, but let me point out that he didn’t endorse me either–and quite frankly, his endorsement would have been more helpful than me than mine to him,” Sen. Seliger added.
Senator Seliger said moving forward, he will remain focused on meeting the needs of the agriculture and energy industries on which our district and the area thrive and maximizing their public policy and taxation interests.
He said it is too early to tell if projects like the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine are at-risk without district representation on the Higher Education and Finance Committees.
It is important to note, however, that State Senator Charles Perry, a Republican from Lubbock, has been named to the Finance Committee.
We have reached out to Empower Texans but have not received comment. We also asked Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s office for comment, but they were out of the office in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.