Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced his list of Senate committee assignments for the 86th Legislative Session last week, naming Sen. Lois W. Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.
Kolkhorst was also named a member of the Senate committees on finance, transportation, nominations and water and rural affairs. Sen. Borris L. Miles, D-Houston, was named to the criminal justice, health and human services, natural resources and economic development and nominations committees.
“I’m grateful to the lieutenant governor for the opportunity to build a healthier state for all Texans,” Kolkhorst said. “This is a time to work together so that our healthcare system is affordable, accessible, and accountable to everyone. My promise is to always listen to every side so that we can get results that touch lives and make a difference.”
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services is one of the most influential Senate committees, responsible for setting public health policy for the state, regulating physicians and other healthcare professionals, and providing legislative oversight to state agencies and boards including the Health and Human Services Commission, Department of Family and Protective Services and the Texas Medical Board among many other health-related licensing agencies.
No stranger to health policy, Kolkhorst previously served as Chair of the House Committee on Public Health for six years during her tenure in the House of Representatives. In addition to health policy, the committee chair also oversees nearly $80 billion of healthcare spending in the state budget.
As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Kolkhorst will continue to serve as a key budget writer for the states’ budget, which is estimated to be well over $200 billion for the 2020-2021 biennium. The state budget is familiar territory for Kolkhorst, who is recognized as the only lawmaker in Texas history to serve as a budget-writing conferee twice in both the House and Senate.
With Kolkhorst’s reappointment to the Transportation Committee, Kolkhorst will oversee the Texas Department of Transportation and will work with local officials on solving traffic problems and highway needs. With nearly a third of the Texas coastline located in Senate District 18, the committee oversees ports and navigation issues.
The authority to make governmental appointments is a power given to the Governor by the State Constitution. As a result, during each four-year term, a Governor will make approximately 3,000 appointments of state officials; members of state boards, commissions, councils, along with vacancies for state-elected and judicial offices. As a member of the Committee on Nominations, Kolkhorst will confirm all appointees proposed by Gov. Greg Abbott.
As a member of the Water and Rural Affairs Committee, Kolkhorst will continue managing the future water needs of Texas. Being a member of this committee will be important to Senate District 18, where Kolkhorst has been a vocal advocate for local control over water and property rights, as well as the proper management of river basins. In addition to her standing committee assignment, Kolkhorst will continue to serve on the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas Advisory Committee.
“I want to thank the lieutenant governor for the committee assignments and allowing me to build upon the issues I have been working on for the last 12 years in the Texas Legislature,” said Senator Miles. “Each one of these powerful committees impacts Senate District 13 in different ways. I plan on utilizing these positions to fight for the issues impacting my community.”
“I am honored to join this committee and fight for common sense criminal justice reforms, new ways to reduce recidivism, ensure our law enforcement receive the tools they need to protect Texans and hold police officers accountable when their actions violate the public’s trust. Too many in my community have been victims to the school to prison pipeline and this committee will allow me to fight for them and enact laws to end that pipeline.”
Health and Human Services
“I represent the world’s largest medical center, where innovation and medical miracles occur daily, but at the same time a district where many lack the means for a daily checkup. I will continue to support and champion women’s health, accessible and affordable healthcare options and ensure that we do not cut vital services that will impact our seniors and most vulnerable Texans.”
Natural Resources and Economic Development
“Bringing jobs and new economic development to my district is one of my top priorities and I plan on ensuring legislation passed through this committee benefits Senate District 13. This committee will also allow me to hold businesses accountable for the impacts their facilities have on our neighborhoods, like rock and concrete crushing facilities, mixed batch plants and oil wells.”
“This committee touches every state agency and public university in Texas by approving the leadership of these entities, which provide services to millions like getting a driver’s license or applying for Medicaid. This committee allows me to ensure that the best and brightest are leading our boards and commissions, and that they reflect the diverse makeup of our state.”