Texas House of Representatives: Opening Day Ceremony for 86th Legislature
Tuesday January 7, 2019, the new Texas Secretary of State, David Whitley, presided over the 86th Texas Legislature opening day ceremony for the House of Representatives. Family members and citizens at large gathered in the 510-seat gallery, as Representatives were sworn in. Led by Whitley, Representatives promised to faithfully execute the duties of the office, as well as preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and Texas.
To be sure, one of the major tasks of the day was to nominate and swear in a new speaker of the house. Numerous nomination speeches were made to nominate Representative Dennis Bonnen, district 25. In fact, a great deal of respect was expressed over Bonnen and his years of leadership and mentoring. He was first elected to the legislature in 1997, at the age of 24. As the newly elected Speaker of the House, he begins his 12th term in office.
The 3 main speakers of the day, offering inspiration and direction, were Secretary Whitley, Governor Greg Abbott, and newly elected House Speaker Bonnen. Whitley’s comments can be read in full from a press release issued by his office, published by The Northeast Texan on January 9th.
Governor Abbott Addresses House
Governor Abbott’s remarks were short but inspirational, specifically, giving direction and focus for the 86th session. After congratulating Speaker Bonnen, he emphasised his confidence that Bonnen will be an outstanding speaker for Texas. He described him as one with whom he has worked closely, and for this reason, has found Bonnen to be a passionate advocate for the House. Additionally, he said that the word tenacity, is the one word to best describe Bonnen.
Abbott then, went on to address the rest of the assembly, congratulating them on their election or reelection. He reminded them of the history made by those before them, that sat at the same desk at which they now sit. Then he brought their attention to the history they are about to make themselves.
He said, “You have the ability to alter the arc of the future of Texas. …Your gonna have the ability to grapple with, and solve issues, that have plagued this state for decades, stretching way back to the last century. You have the ability and we are going to achieve it…addressing the needs of our citizens… including making our schools more resilient to violence and keeping our students safe. We are going to reform school finance in the state of Texas. And we are going to reform property taxes in Texas this session. …It could be 10 years. It could be 20 years… Someone else is going to be sitting at the desk you are sitting at. They will know, when they come here, they are sitting at the desk of someone who altered the course of Texas, because of what you do in this session.”
These statements were met with much applause. Lastly, Abbott closed with the challenge to make this 86th session the most significant session ever.
A most interesting order of business:
Two temporary committees were appointed. One to inform the governor, and the other to inform the Senate, without delay, that the House is organized and prepared to transact business. Both committees left, and reported back after their mission was complete. Equally important, the Senate also reported to the House, that it too is organized and prepared to transact business. There was humor attached to the fraternity-feel of the business when receiving the Senate’s announcement.
Local representatives of interest:
Dan Flynn is in his sixth term as district 2’s representative, covering Hopkins, Hunt, Van Zandt counties. First term representative Keith Bell serves in district 4, which covers a portion of Henderson and Kaufman counties. John Wray of district 10 represents the other portion of Henderson county, as well as Ellis county. Wray is beginning his 4th term in the Texas House of Representatives. Cole Hefner has served district 5 since May of 2016. Hefner’s district covers Camp, Morris, Rains, part of Smith, Titus, and Wood counties. Matt Schaefer of District 6, represent the other part of Smith county. Schaefer has served in the Texas legislature since 2012. Justin Holland has served district 33 since January of 2017. District 33 includes Rockwall County and portions of Collin County. First term representative Candy Noble represents district 89, which covers the other part of Collin county.
For information on every member, go to the Legislature’s website, where you can find a gallery for every member of the House. In addition, you can gather a great deal of information on each.
University of Texas Quartet opens the session with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem
Video by Susan Skommesa
Photos by Susan Skommesa