Senators of the 86th Texas Legislature Sworn in Tuesday
Senators of the 86th Texas Legislature were sworn in Tuesday to protect and defend our great State of Texas and the United States Constitution. Local Senators Bryan Hughes (District 1), Bob Hall (District 2), and Angela Paxton (District 8) took their oaths in the Senate Chamber, along with the entire delegation of Texas’ 32 Senators, but one, January 8, 2019. Noticeably absent was Senate President and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who usually conducts the Swearing in ceremony, but had instead, accepted President Donald Trump’s invitation to help brief him on border security issues prior to Trump’s nationwide address regarding the border wall, later that evening. Senator Jane Nelson (District 12) expertly presided over the Texas Senate and performed the duties faithfully, until the body formally elected this session’s Senate President Pro Tempore Kirk Watson (District 14), and conducted its first order of business.
This session, there are nine women Senators, and three of those: Angela Paxton, Carol Alvarado, and Beverly Powell are new, and replace outgoing Senators. Other replacements include: Pat Fallon, Pete Flores, and Nathan Johnson. All other Senators were re-elected incumbents.
Governor Greg Abbott witnessed Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht issue the oath of office to Senators with hands raised. Abbott then spoke briefly to Senators about goals of the 86th Legislative Session, with public education financing and border security at the head of the line. President Pro Tempore Watson (a lawyer by profession) concluded ceremonial formalities with his acceptance speech, as he quoted Romans 12:4-8 as his primary inspiration in fulfilling what he referred to as his God-given calling and gifting to serving in public elected office.
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Watson related to his audience of approximately 1,000 listeners, excluding televised viewers, that after multiple rounds of chemo and surgeries, he is a cancer survivor. Watson shared his testimony and said, “My journey reminds me every day how short life is.” Some of the gifts his survivorship has given him, he explained, are enhanced “empathy for those who suffer and have unfulfilled needs,” and the “freedom to take chances, the freedom to pursue things in the right way without fear of consequences, the freedom to seek compromise or practical outcomes when some people demand only one way, the freedom to throw away labels and listen to a person, because even though we think we know all they believe, that label may not be really telling us everything we can or ought to know about them. And there’s a gift in understanding urgency. Every minute we waste is gone.”
In fact, the Legislature meets for only 140 days every other year to accomplish goals, some of which are mandated, like the budget; some of which involve state and national security, and yet others, may be issues of political import with or without moral implications.
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Whether or not Senators work together to accomplish matters of significance, remains to be seen. After all, the ability to work together toward united objectives depends in large part on the standard by which individuals’ beliefs are measured. What is your Senator’s standard? Do you know? If you watch his or her performance this session, you will be equipped to know best how to vote, come the next election cycle. Vigilance has its reward when accompanied by action. Watch, pray, and let your elected officials know how you stand on issues important to you. When enough people voice their opinions, elected officials take notice. Don’t underestimate the value of your opinion, when expressed in the stately manner by which you expect them to behave in return.
Look up bills and their status from their introduction, to committee assignments, floor debate, and Governor’s signature at Texas Legislature Online.