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December 28, 2000     (512) 463-0300
Bill Ratliff being sworn in as President of the Senate
Mount Pleasant Senator Bill Ratliff being sworn in as President of the Senate by Tom Phillips, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, while Sally Ratliff holds the Bible for her husband.

Senator Bill Ratliff is the New President of
the Texas Senate

AUSTIN - Senator Bill Ratliff of Mt. Pleasant was elected on the eighth ballot as the new Presiding Officer and the State's acting Lieutenant Governor, today, December 28, 2000 during the Committee of the Whole Senate. Ratliff was sworn in immediately as President of the Texas Senate.

A consulting civil engineer for 30 years, Senator Ratliff owns his own firm in Mt. Pleasant. He was first elected as senator from District 1 in 1988. Ratliff was Senate President Pro Tempore from 1997 to 1998. He will concurrently hold his position as senator during the upcoming 77th Legislative Session. Ratliff currently chairs the Finance Committee, and is also a member of the Education and the Natural Resources Committees. Ratliff is married to Sally Sandlin Ratliff and has three children and eight grandchildren.

Senator Ratliff occupies the post left open by Rick Perry, who became Governor after the resignation of Governor George W. Bush, now President-elect of the United States. The Lieutenant Governor is usually selected in a general election. Many say the position can be even more powerful than the governor's office, since the Lieutenant Governor has the power to appoint committee chairmen and members and also controls the flow of legislation.

Earlier in the week, several Texas newspapers wanted the Senate to elect its president by an open vote, rather than the secret ballot that was planned and filed suit to force that kind of vote. While a district judge and appeals court agreed with the newspapers, the Texas Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that a secret ballot was permissible under the state constitution.

In remarks, Ratliff addressed his colleagues directly, "There truly is no greater honor than to be selected by your peers for an office as responsible as this one because, after all, you know all of my faults as well as I do having worked together all these years. I am truly honored. I hope and pray that you will believe that your confidence was not misplaced. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me the opportunity to show you that I can live up to your confidence."

Ratliff also addressed the observers of the proceedings, "I want you to know that this is one fine body of people and there were many candidates for this office and some non candidates that could have performed this job very well. And you should be proud of the way this group has gone about fulfilling its duties under the constitution."

Governor Rick Perry called Senator Ratliff to congratulate him immediately after the meeting. Ratliff then met with members in a private caucus.

Click here to view the Committee of the Whole in RealVideo format.

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