Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick holds senior Republican positions in the Texas Senate.

Austin. On Monday, Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick handed Republicans leadership positions in almost every Senate committee, losing several leadership positions to Democrats.

As lieutenant governor, Patrick decides which of the 31 Texas senators to serve on each committee. With 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats in the upper house of the Legislative Assembly, the likelihood that the Republicans would have firm control of legislation in this session has always been high.

Republicans will chair most of the sink committees, where the details of some of the most influential and wide-ranging legislation will be worked out during this year’s legislative session. These include committees that will shape the state budget, study Texas’ public and higher education systems, and work to bolster the beleaguered Texas electricity grid.

Almost every aspect of lawmaking in the Capitol is at stake. Senate committee chairs have the sole power to decide which bills that come to their table should be rejected and which should be heard before being sent to the Senate floor.

“The vast majority of bills voted in the House will receive bipartisan support,” Patrick said in a press release. “But make no mistake, priority bills will solve the problems of the conservative majority in Texas.”

Only one Democrat, Houston Senator John Whitmire, will chair the committee. Whitmire will chair the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

In the Texas House, committee chairs were a very partisan issue. Republican Speaker Dade Phelan has faced criticism from some members of the Republican and Texas Republican Houses of Representatives for continuing a long tradition of appointing Democrats to chair some of the lower house legislative committees.

Patrick faced no opposition from his party for continuing to appoint Whitmire to head the criminal justice committee. Whitmire, who is now also a candidate for mayor of Houston, is considered a conservative on public safety matters, which his committee usually handles.

Senators from North Texas will chair three committees. Senator Brian Birdwell, a Granbury Republican who represents Mansfield and part of Arlington, will chair the Senate committees on border security and natural resources and economic development. Rockwall Republican Senator Bob Hall will serve as chairman of the Senate Administrative Affairs Committee for the first time.

Republican McKinney Angela Paxton has received her first appointment to the coveted Senate Finance Committee. The Budget Committee will be in the spotlight this session as lawmakers decide how to spend the $32.7 billion budget surplus.

Dallas Democratic Senator Royce West, who has served in the Senate for 30 years, will become vice chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. Since the Republicans took over as lieutenant governor in 1998, West has served continuously as chairman of various Senate standing committees until Patrick took over in 2014.

West, who had chaired intergovernmental relations for four sessions and jurisprudence for three, was demoted under Patrick to vice chairman of higher education. He held the post from 2015 to 2021 but was fired this year due to Maes Middleton, R-Wallisville, the conservative movement and Patrick’s favorite who is a freshman. Under Republican Lieutenant Governors Rick Perry and David Dewhurst in 1999 and 2003, West chaired a subcommittee on higher education.

Sen. Nathan Johnson, another Democrat from Dallas, will become vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He will also serve on the administrative, business and trade committees.

Austin bureau chief Robert T. Garrett contributed to this report.

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