From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
April 8, 2000
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Rodney Ellis Sworn in as Governor for a Day

AUSTIN -- In a majestic inaugural ceremony on the Capitol grounds, Senator Rodney Ellis today was sworn in as Governor of Texas. Former Governor Ann Richards introduced Governor Ellis, while Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk served as Master of Ceremonies of the Inauguration.

On May 31, 1999, Ellis' colleagues elected him to serve as President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate. The President Pro Tempore, the third highest state official under the Texas Constitution, serves as the Acting Governor of Texas when the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are out of the state. Under longstanding Texas tradition, the President Pro Tempore is sworn in as Governor on a day when both the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are out of the state. On April 8, Senator Ellis was officially sworn in as the official "Governor for a Day" of the State of Texas. The Governor for a Day holds all powers of the office and serves as the official head of state on that day. Unlike past "Governors for a Day," Senator Ellis has already served as governor 31 days because Governor George W. Bush's presidential bid has required extensive travel out of the state.

"It is a tremendous honor and my deepest privilege to serve as your voice in the Texas Senate and to today assume the duties and responsibilities of the Governor of Texas," said Governor Ellis. "Growing up in Southeast Houston, I never dreamed that I would one day have the opportunity to serve the people and community I love so dearly in such an important role. I thank you for your support and trust and for giving me the opportunity to represent you in Austin. For that privilege, I am genuinely humbled and eternally grateful."

Currently serving his fifth term, Governor Ellis was first elected to represent Senate District 13 in the Texas Senate in 1990 to fill the term of Craig Washington. Washington had been elected to Congress to succeed Ellis' mentor, Congressman Leland, following Leland@s tragic death in a plane crash in Africa. During his decade in the Senate, Rodney has been a leader on education, civil rights, economic development, tax cuts and workforce development issues. His accomplishments have had a major impact on Texas families.

In the Senate, Governor Ellis led the effort to cut sales and business taxes by $506 million. The legislation eliminated sales taxes on over-the-counter medicines, slashed taxes on small businesses and and research and development costs, cut Internet access taxes, and created a sales tax holiday each August to help families with back-to-school expenses.

Governor Ellis passed legislation requiring nonprofit hospitals --which receive significant tax breaks-- to provide health care to uninsured patients. As a result of Ellis' efforts, the amount of charity care provided by Texas' 146 nonprofit hospitals increased 72% between 1992 and 1996. He has also launched initiatives to expand access to child care, increase school safety and encourage our blossoming high tech industries.

But perhaps his finest legislative achievement could become one of the biggest downpayments on our children's future the state of Texas has ever made. Governor Ellis sponsored legislation creating the TEXAS Grant Program, an innovative college scholarship plan for high-achieving Texas students. Modeled after Georgia's HOPE Scholarship program, TEXAS Grants will allow thousands of Texas students to go to college and get the education they need to succeed.

As a successor to the late Barbara Jordan representing Houston, Governor Ellis has championed civil rights and justice reform issues. He passed legislation creating the Hate Crimes Reporting Statute requiring local law enforcement to compile statistics on acts of hate and report to the Department of Public Safety. Governor Ellis has worked tirelessly to strengthen that law to improve prosecution of hate crimes in Texas. Governor Ellis also led the effort to reform the Texas judiciary, requiring limits on campaign contributions and demanding a more open electoral process.

Governor Ellis has been just as successful in the world of business and international relations as in the legislative arena. He co-founded Apex Securities, Inc., an investment banking firm which recently merged with Rice Financial Products Company, a nationally recognized municipal interest rate swap company. As an attorney for McGlinchey Stafford, he focuses on corporate and environmental law. He was a key player in helping Mexico ratify NAFTA and he has been a global leader helping the nations of Africa privatize many of their governmental operations. Ellis has also tapped into the Internet, serving a major role in several cutting edge technology companies such as Periscope Inc., E-Court and E-Stamp.

Governor Ellis joins Jordan and Craig Washington as the only African Americans to ever serve as Governor of the State of Texas.

"On this historic day, I think of the history of our great state and all the people who have helped me reach this proud moment," said Ellis. "I think of my family and friends, colleagues and advisors who have all given me so much. But most of all, I think of the men and women of Houston, who have blessed me with their support and trust, and allowed me to be their voice in our state Capitol. You have given me the opportunity to serve, but more importantly, you have become my most valued friends."

Facts on State Senator Rodney Ellis
Governor for a Day Celebration
April 8, 2000

State Senator Rodney Ellis represents Senate District 13, comprising parts of Harris and Fort Bend counties.

He currently is privileged to serve as President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate.

The President Pro Tempore is selected by the members of the Texas Senate from among their number.

Senator Ellis was selected at the end of the last legislative session and was installed as President Pro Tempore on May 31, 1999.

Under the Texas Constitution, the President Pro Tempore is the third highest state official, after the Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

When the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are out of the state, the President Pro Tempore serves as the Acting Governor of Texas.

During his tenure thus far as President Pro Tempore, Senator Ellis has served as Acting Governor during all or part of 22 days. He has served more days as Acting Governor than any President Pro Tempore in recent memory.

Under longstanding Texas tradition, the President Pro Tempore is sworn in as Governor on a day when both the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are out of the state.

Senator Ellis' ceremony will take place at noon on Saturday, April 8, 2000, on the South Steps of the Texas State Capitol Building in Austin. It will be followed by a barbecue and entertainment on the Capitol Grounds.

The swearing-in ceremony and celebration honor the Senator, his family and friends, and the people of his district.