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HD125 special: Fred Rangel, who unsuccessfully sought the vice chairmanship of the Republican Party of Texas last year, announced he would seek the seat vacated by former Rep. and current Bexar Co. Comm. Justin Rodriguez (D-San Antonio). Rangel unsuccessfully ran for San Antonio council D7 in 2015 (15%).

Former Rep. Art Reyna (D-San Antonio) reauthorized his campaign committee, dormant since 2006, for the race.

San Antonio education policy advocate Coda Rayo-Garza established a campaign committee for the race.

Former San Antonio council member Cris Medina and San Antonio brewer Scott Metzger are believed to be considering the race. Metzger’s campaign has a blank Facebook page and web site (scott4texas.com). Monday is the filing deadline.

HD145 special: New Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman (D) has extended hours of operation for polling places during the first week of early voting. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Former County Clerk Stan Stanart closed polls at 4:30 p.m. during the first week of early voting.

House Speaker: The House on Tuesday unanimously elected Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) as its new Speaker, succeeding former Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio).

House Committees: Oversight of the Texas Ethics Commission and the “duties and conduct of candidates for public office” and lobbyists was transferred to the State Affairs Committee from the Elections Committee in rules adopted today (Wednesday) by the Texas House of Representatives. Other changes in committee structure included:

  • The Economic and Small Business Development Committee was eliminated
  • The Government Transparency and Operation Committee was eliminated
  • The Pensions Committee and the Investments and Financial Services Committee were merged.
  • The Special Purpose Districts Committee was eliminated.
  • Permanent subcommittees on educator quality, postsecondary education and workforce readiness, special water districts, long-term transportation infrastructure planning and property taxation were eliminated.
  • Jurisdiction over the creation, modification and regulation of municipal utility districts was expressly given to the Land and Resource Management Committee.

The rules also contained new procedures for investigating inappropriate conduct, including routing complaints to the General Investigating Committee.

Palmview: Contending that the city’s charter overrules an interpretation of state election law, attorneys for Mayor Rick Villarreal argued there is no vacancy in the office of mayor. The city’s charter provides that a vacancy occurs only “upon the death, resignation, forfeiture of office or removal from office.” None of those circumstances apply to Villarreal, who was unopposed and listed on the ballot as such. State law permits municipalities to declare unopposed candidates as elected only if all candidates for municipal office were unopposed. The Secretary of State provided an opinion that Villarreal was not lawfully elected. In November, two city council races were contested. Visiting Judge Romeo Flores is expected to rule on the case next week.

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