1 John Otto
Dayton Republican
Appropriations Chair
2 Todd Hunter
Corpus Christi Republican
Calendars Chair, Urban Affairs Vice-Chair, Redistricting, Criminal Jurisprudence, General Investigating & Ethics
3 Charlie Geren
Fort Worth Republican
Administration Chair, Calendars, State Affairs, Licensing & Administrative Procedures
4 Dennis Bonnen
Angleton Republican
Ways & Means Chair, Natural Resources, Speaker Pro Tem
5 Jim Keffer
Eastland Republican
Natural Resources Chair, Energy Resources, Redistricting
6 Byron Cook
Corsicana Republican
State Affairs Chair, Calendars
7 Drew Darby
San Angelo Republican
Energy Resources Chair, Ways & Means
8 Jimmy Don Aycock
San Angelo Republican
Public Education Chair, Defense & Veterans Affairs
9 Tan Parker
Flower Mound Republican
Investments & Financial Services Chair, Ways & Means, Redistricting, Select State & Federal Power & Responsibility, House Republican Caucus Chair
10 Sylvester Turner
Houston Democrat
Appropriations Vice-Chair, State Affairs, Appropriations Subcommittee Chair
11 John Zerwas
Richmond Republican
Higher Education Chair, Public Health
12 Senfronia Thompson
Houston Democrat
Local & Consent Calendars Chair, Licensing & Administrative Procedures, Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, Redistricting
13 Four Price
Amarillo Republican
Appropriations, Calendar, Human Services, Appropriations Subcommittee Chair
14 Larry Phillips
Sherman Republican
Homeland Security & Public Safety Chair, Transportation
15 Joe Pickett
El Paso Democrat
Transportation Chair, Investments & Financial Services, Redistricting
16 Yvonne Davis
Dallas Democrat
Ways & Means Vice-Chair, Redistricting Vice-Chair, Transportation, Democratic Caucus Leader
17 Rene Oliveira
Brownsville Democrat
Business & Industry Chair, State Affairs, Redistricting
18 Wayne Smith
Baytown Republican
Licensing & Administrative Procedures Chair, Culture Recreation & Tourism
19 Jodie Laubenberg
Parker Republican
Elections Chair, Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence
20 John Kuempel
Seguin Republican
General Investigating & Ethics Chair, State Affairs, Licensing & Administrative Procedures
21 Larry Gonzales
Round Rock Republican
Appropriations, Local & Consent, Redistricting, Government Transparency & Operation, Appropriations Subcommittee Chair
22 Sarah Davis
Houston Republican
Appropriations, Calendars, Public Health, General Investigating & Ethics, Appropriations Subcommittee Chair
23 Trent Ashby
Lufkin Republican
Appropriations, Natural Resources Vice-Chair, Administration, Appropriations Subcommittee Chair
24 John Smithee
Amarillo Republican
Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Chair, State Affairs
25 Myra Crownover
Denton Republican
Public Health Chair, Higher Education
26 Geanie Morrison
Victoria Republican
Environmental Regulation Chair, Higher Education
27 Dan Huberty
Humble Republican
Calendars, State Affairs, Public Education, Educator Quality Subcommitte Chair
28 Phil King
Weatherford Republican
Select State & Federal Power & Responsibility Chair, Energy Resources, Environmental Regulation
29 Allen Fletcher
Tomball Republican
Select Emerging Issues in Texas Law Enforcement Chair, Transportation, Business & Industry
30 Patricia Harless
Houston Republican
Calendars, State Affairs, Transportation
31 Angie Chen Button
Garland Republican
Economic & Small Business Development Chair, Ways & Means, Rules & Resolutions
32 Dan Flynn
Van Republican
Pensions Chair, Investments & Financial Services, Select Emerging Issues in Texas Law Enforcement
33 John Frullo
Lubbock Republican
Insurance Chair, Culture Recreation & Tourism
34 Jim Murphy
Houston Republican
Corrections Chair, Ways & Means
35 Cindy Burkett
Sunnyvale Republican
Appropriations, Local & Consent Calendars, Transportation
36 Garnett Coleman
Houston Democrat
County Affairs Chair, Public Health
37 J.M. Lozano
Kingsville Republican
Redistricting Chair, Environmental Regulation, International Trade & Intergovernmental Relations
38 Doug Miller
New Braunfels Republican
Special Purpose Districts Chair, Licensing & Administrative Procedures
Tan Parker Four Price Larry Gonzales John Otto
Tan Parker Four Price Larry Gonzales John Otto  

April 2, 2015

Legislature Power Rankings

Straus House Power List Features A-Team Leaders
in Highest Places with Most Movement in Tier Two

Texas Senate Power Rankings 2015

Power in the Texas House as we know it today is a team concept that's measured by the length and the strength of relationships that individual representatives have or do not have with the San Antonio Republican who's been leading the chamber for the past six years.

But the leadership team that Speaker Joe Straus has assembled is the legislative equivalent to a professional football or basketball squad with a starting lineup that's been very hard to penetrate for House members who aren't already in it. State Reps. John Otto and Tan Parker are this year's exceptions as a pair of Republicans who are the only newcomers to the list of the 10 House members are wielding the most sway based on the Capitol Inside Texas Legislature Power Rankings for 2015.

With the House top 10 locked in until Straus gives up the gavel or his A-team lieutenants leave the lower chamber voluntarily or against their will, the most intense competition for clout in the west wing of the statehouse can be found in the second realm of the 25 highest slots on the power ladder in the current regular session.

In a chamber where Democrats have been outnumbered for the past dozen years, Republicans who are two seats short of a super majority have substantially more influence from a collective perspective than the advantage they have in sheer numbers. That's the way it works at every state capitol and in Washington D.C. where Congress does business. Democrats who ruled the Texas House for more than a century until 2003 are playing in a separate league that's more akin to the minors with a power structure of their own.

But the key to amassing power in the Straus House is the same for Democrats and Republicans alike even though the minority party's members find it all but impossible to crack the top 10 in light of the way the system has evolved. before and after the current speaker claimed the leadership spot initially amid a bipartisan revolt in 2009.

In the aftermath of the Democratic Party's worst showing at the polls in modern Texas history, it should come as little surprise that the minority party's highest ranked members on the new House power list both slipped two or three slots compared to their positions during the last regular session in 2013. The good news for the Democrats is that they have five House members rated among the 20 most powerful representatives this time around after landing three that high on the chart two years ago.

Democrats who hold 35.3 percent of 150 state House seats have exactly one-third of the 75 slots on the newly-reshuffled web site power rankings list. But the disproportionate sharing of wealth that's an institutional characteristic is more evident when considering that 20 of the 25 House Democrats who are listed on this year's chart are ranked in the bottom half. That's probably better than they would have expected if the speaker happened to be a Republican who hadn't won the leadership post with a winning boost from Democrats like Straus managed to do in his first race for the job when he vowed to be a bipartisan leader.

But Straus' indebtedness to the minority party's members - despite its apparent value as a primary recruiting weapon for conservatives who've tried and failed repeatedly to oust him from the speaker's office - may be subject eventually to an unwritten statute of limitations at some point if he decides to seek one or more terms at the dais. Straus, who Republicans on the right see as way too moderate for tea party tastes, has demonstrated an ability in his last two re-election bids to with minimal support across the aisle.

The Democrats' cumulative power stock could take a significant hit in value with veteran State Rep. Sylvester Turner preparing to run for mayor in Houston later this year. That would leave State Reps. Senfronia Thompson of Houston, Joe Pickett of El Paso, Yvonne Davis of Dallas and Rene Oliveira of Brownsville as the only remaining Democrats who are ranked among the top 20 on the 2015 House power list.

Pickett jumped from the mid-forties all the way to the top 15 as a function of an appointment by Straus earlier this year to coveted job of Transportation Committee chairman. After being ranked in the low thirties two years ago, Oliveira vaulted into the top 20 due in part to his role as the only Democrat to deliver one of several nominating speeches on Straus' behalf in the speaker's election in January.

But the Democrats will have to reclaim the majority in the lower chamber before any of them ever have a chance to land anywhere near as high on the House power chart as Otto is now as a lawmaker who's had the number one ranking sewn up since the moment Straus tapped him two months ago to chair the Appropriations Committee. Otto had ranked among the top 20 in power value in recent sessions as one of the speaker's most trusted lieutenants on state fiscal issues. The southeast Texas lawmaker had been widely viewed as the chamber's chief expert on taxes and spending since his freshman session 10 years ago - and he secured the appointment after the former chief House budget writer stepped down without a re-election campaign in 2014.

Parker took a much different path to his current ranking as the House's ninth most powerful member in 2015. A Flower Mound Republican with a conservative reputation and voting record, Parker had to work his way out of the doghouse after opposing Straus in his first re-election bid for speaker four years ago. Parker took a significant step with a mid-level committee chair appointment after switching his allegiance to the incumbent speaker in 2013 - and made an even bigger leap with his election early in the session as the new House Republican Caucus chairman.

Parker's stock received another bump when Straus picked him to char the Investments & Financial Committee that some of the speaker's other GOP allies had lobbied to lead. But the biggest factor in Parker's rise from 28th on the power chart into the top 10 was the role that he initiated when he spearheaded an organizational push for support on Straus' behalf in the period leading up to the speaker's contest in January.

The rest of the top 10 on the House side looks the same as it did two years ago with leadership team fixtures like State Reps. Charlie Geren of Fort Worth, Jim Keffer of Eastland and Byron Cook of Corsicana - a trio of Republicans who'd been among the speaker's original 12 supporters who became known as the Straus Cardinals as a result of the way they'd annointed him to run for the leadership position.

GOP State Reps. Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi and Dennis Bonnen of Angleton are back in familiar places high on the House clout list as the chairmen of the Calendars Committee and Ways & Means Committee respectively. Bonnen, who's in the midst of his second session as the speaker pro tem, climbed a couple of spots on the new list in the wake of his selection by Straus to chair the Houise tax-writing committee at a time when tax cuts are a paramount priority.

Some of the most notable newcomers on the House list are ranked relatively high in light of plum promotions that they received when the speaker elevated them to the top jobs on several Appropriations Committee subcommittees that were critical in ground floor development of a two-year state budget that the House approved on Wednesday.

State Rep. Walter "Four" Price - an Amarillo Republican who's serving his third House term - landed in the top 15 partly as a result of an appointment as the chairman of the budget subcommittee that focused on health and human services spending. But a corresponding assignment to the highly-powerful Calendars Committee gave Price another major power boost as well. Republican State Reps. Larry Gonzales of Round Rock, Sarah Davis of Houston and Trent Ashby of Lufkin soared from off the list into the top 25 as well on the House power chart for 2015.

39 Susan King
Abilene Republican
Defense & Veterans Chair, Culture Recreation & Tourism
40 Dwayne Bohac
Houston Republican
Ways & Means, Public Education
40 Gary Elkins
Houston Republican
Government Transparency & Operation Chair, Urban Affairs
41 Ruth McClendon
San Antonio Democrat
Rules & Resolutions Chair, Appropriations, Transportation
42 Rick Miller
Sugar Land Republican
Appropriations, Public Health, Appropriations Subcommittee Vice-Chair
43 Giovanni Capriglione
Southlake Republican
Appropriations, Local & Consent Calendars, Investments & Financial Services, Bond Indebtedness Subcommittee Chair
44 Ron Simmons
Carrollton Republican
Business & Industry Vice-Chair, Transportation, Long-Term Infrastructure Planning Subcommittee Chair
45 Helen Giddings
Dallas Democrat
State Affairs Vice-Chair, Appropriations, Calendars, Appropriations Subcommittee Vice-Chair
46 Dawnna Dukes
Austin Democrat
Culture Recreation & Tourism Vice-Chair, Emerging Issues in Texas Law Enforcement Vice-Chair, Appropriations, Appropriations Subcommittee Vice-Chair
47 Marisa Marquez
Austin Democrat
Administration Vice-Chair, Appropriations, Appropriations Subcommittee Vice-Chair, Culture Recreation & Tourism
48 Sergio Munoz Jr.
Mission Democrat
Insurance Vice-Chair, Appropriations, Appropriations Subcommittee Vice-Chair
49 Jason Isaac
Austin Republican
Economic & Small Business Development, Environmental Regulation, Local & Consent Calendars, Small Business Subcommittee Chair
50 Travis Clardy
Nacogdoches Republican
Local & Consent Calendars Vice-Chair, Higher Education, Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, Select State & Federal Power & Responsibility, Post-Secondary & Workforce Readiness Subcommittee Chair
51 John Raney
Bryan Republican
Appropriations, Higher Education, Administration
52 Lyle Larson
San Antonio Republican
Calendars, Natural Resources, Culture Recreation & Tourism, General Investigating & Ethics, Special Water Districts Subcommittee Chair
53 Carol Alvarado
Houston Democrat
Urban Affairs Chair, Special Purpose Districts Vice-Chair, Rules & Resolutions
54 Tracy King
Uvalde Democrat
Agriculture & Livestock Chair, Natural Resources
55 Abel Herrero
Corpus Christi Democrat
Criminal Jurisprudence Chair, Energy Resources
56 Ryan Guillen
Rio Grande City Democrat
Culture Recreation & Tourism Chair, Licensing & Administrative Procedures
57 Harold Dutton
Houston Democrat
Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Chair, Public Education
58 Joe Deshotel
Beaumont Democrat
Land & Resource Management Chair, Public Education
59 Rafael Anchia
Dallas Democrat
International Trade & Intergovernmental Relations Chair, Energy Resources
60 Donna Howard
Austin Democrat
Higher Education Vice-Chair, Appropriations, Administration
61 Ken King
Canadian Republican
Calendars, Administration, Public Education, Environmental Regulation
62 Greg Bonnen
Friendswood Republican
Appropriations, Insurance
63 Cecil Bell
Magnolia Republican
Appropriations, Land & Resource Management, Rules & Resolutions
64 J.D. Sheffield
Gatesville Republican
Appropriations, Public Health, Rules & Resolutions
65 Marsha Farney
Georgetown Republican
State Affairs, Administration, Public Education
66 Chris Paddie
Marshall Republican
Energy Resources Vice-Chair, Administration, Transportation
67 Eddie Lucio III
Brownsville Democrat
Calendars Vice-Chair, Natural Resources, Land & Resource Management
68 Oscar Longoria
La Joya Democrat
Investments & Financial Services Vice-Chair, Appropriations
69 Borris Miles
Houston Democrat
Appropriations, Licensing & Administrative Procedures, Select State & Federal Power & Responsibility
70 Justin Rodriguez
San Antonio Democrat
Appropriations, Pensions, Rules & Resolutions
71 Armando Walle
Houston Democrat
Government Transparency & Operation Vice-Chair, Appropriations, Select State & Federal Power & Responsibility
72 Debbie Riddle
Tomball Republican
Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Vice-Chair, Calendars, Energy Resources
73 Jason Villalba
Dallas Republican
Business & Industry, Economic & Small Business Development
74 Eric Johnson
Dallas Democrat
Economic & Small Business Development Vice-Chair, Calendars, Homeland Security & Public Safety
75 Bryan Hughes
Mineola Republican
Appropriations, Juvenile Justice & Family Issues

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