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January 24, 2023      3:55 PM

HK: Kremlin watching or Deciphering Senate Appointments

From redistricting to navigating personal controversies, Patrick forges the new leadership team with few surprises but several twists

For Kremlin watchers in the lobby, the announcement of committee assignments is usually seen as an inflection point marking the real beginning of the process and the character of the session to come. Typically, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s assignments are announced before the year begins so there was some additional interest since this year they did not happen before the Inauguration.

Of particular interest was Business and Commerce that saw the unprecedented firing of a Chairman, Kelly Hancock in the middle of the last session and the hiring of Charles Schwertner to replace him. Hancock’s sin was to publicly disagree with Patrick over clawing back arguably windfall profits to electricity producers during Winter Storm Uri. Hancock argued that a retrospective claw-back would destabilize markets.

The silence of Hancock’s colleagues after his firing cemented Patrick’s chokehold over the Senate and diminished the body so that the all but universally accepted lobby attitude is that “…there is only one vote that matters in the Senate.”

As a result, while there was interest over the assignments, it was not met with the usual hyper-concern normally demonstrated in most sessions.

And frankly, there were only a few surprises.

By Harvey Kronberg

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