Rep. Aaron Pena, D-Edinburg, has been appointed vice chair of the House Committee on Elections, which examines voting laws and the methods in which the state conducts its elections, but concedes his chair of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committeel, the Speaker announced Thursday.
Pena will continue to serve on the House Committee on Ways and Means which oversees the state's tax laws and serve on the House Committee on Redistricting, which examines the boundaries of congressional and state legislative seats. He is serving his fourth term in the Texas House.
"In the past we have been successful because of a willingness to set aside partisanship and work together on behalf of all Texans," Pena said in a statement. "I look forward to continue working in that tradition. As we celebrate the 200 year anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's birth we are reminded about the importance of one of our most precious rights as Americans, our vote.
"As Vice Chair of the Elections Committee I will be able to continue the important work of ensuring that our voting system in Texas is fair, accessible and above reproach," he said.
Rep. Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen, whose District 41 also includes part of Edinburg, was named chair of Border and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.
Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, was named chair of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-San Benito, is vice chair of the Calendars Committee, which handles the passage of bills to the House floor.
Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez, D-Weslaco, is on the Corrections Committee and the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee. Freshmen Rep. Tara Rios Ybarra, D-South Padre Island, is on the Agriculture & Livestock, Energy Resources, and Rules & Resolutions committees.
The two South Texas lawmakers, Peña and Rep. Kino Flores, D-Palmview, who were chairs under former Speaker Tom Craddick lost their chairmanships. Flores is no longer chair of Licensing and Administrative Affairs, but now sits on the Appropriations Committee and the Border and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee along with Rep. Gonzales.
Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, former vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee under Craddick is no longer on the panel that writes the state budget. Guillen is on Border and Intergovernmental Affairs and Transportation.
Texas is expected to pick up at least three congressional seats this redistricting cycle. Peña said his recent appointment by the Speaker will allow him to advocate for congressional districts that maximize the Rio Grande Valley 's representation in Washington , D.C.
"I have again invited my good friend Speaker Straus to make another visit to Hidalgo County. He is committed to our region and promised to return."