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December 14, 2000     (512) 463-0300

Texas Senate President Pro Tempore Prepares to Convene Chamber to Select New Presiding Officer

Houston Senator Rodney Ellis, President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate, briefed media Thursday on the procedures and process the Senate will follow in selecting a new presiding officer. Lt. Gov. Rick Perry will succeed Governor George W. Bush upon his resignation. This marks the first time in history that the Texas Senate will meet to select a new presiding officer following the succession of the Lt. Governor to the office of Governor.

The President Pro Tempore performs the duties of the Lt. Governor until a member is selected by a majority of the chamber to fill the role. That member then presides over the Senate until a new Lt. Governor is elected in the next general election. The member selected continues to represent his constituents as their senator.

Under the Texas Constitution, the Senate sets its own rules for the selection of a new presiding officer between general elections. Ellis said he will continue to meet with his colleagues to determine how the majority of the chamber wants to proceed.

Ellis said the date the Senate will meet to select a new presiding officer will be determined by three factors: 1) when the members reach a consensus on procedure; 2) the members' travel schedules; and 3) when Bush resigns as governor. He said Senate action will be "very quick" following Bush's resignation.

The Texas Constitution directs the Senate to act within 30 days of a vacancy in the office of the Lt. Governor, which occurs officially as soon as Perry takes the oath of office for Governor.

Ellis said he anticipated the process will go smoothly when the Senate meets to select a new presiding officer and does not expect a lengthy debate. "I predict it will move pretty quickly," he said.

Each of the 31 members of the Texas Senate are eligible for consideration when the chamber meets, and no nominations are required. Ellis said the informal campaigning among his colleagues has been quiet and "very dignified."

"I've been impressed by the way my colleagues have conducted themselves," Ellis said.

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