Capitol Update from Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.

September 8, 2005

Sen. Lucio's Role in the State Nominations Process
(See List of Appointees Below)

The Texas Senate has the distinct responsibility and privilege of approving Texans appointed by the Governor to serve on boards and commissions that establish policy and rules.

During the four-year term of the Governor, roughly 2,000 appointments are made to state boards and commissioners. About half of those appointments require confirmation by the Texas Senate. This past regular session, the Senate confirmed 530 nominees. Of those, 17 were from my senatorial district.

How does the process work? As terms on state boards and commissions become available, the Governor's appointments office examines and reviews their records for individuals from across the state who have expressed an interest in a particular board or commission. The appointments office will narrow down a list of potential appointees to recommend to the Governor by qualifications. Generally they will be looking for a proportionate mix of appointees based on geographical location, race, ethnicity and gender.

The Governor will then select a particular individual to be named to the board. When the Governor selects a nominee for a post, he is required by the Texas Constitution to submit this nomination to the Senate for confirmation. He first informs the Senator who represents the nominee, for the purpose of obtaining the legislator's approval. This courtesy is extended to every Senator during each interim prior to the legislative session.

The ability for Senators to have final say over appointments is not in any law or rule book. In fact, the Texas Constitution specifies a two-thirds vote of the Senate--equaling 21--for approval of an appointee. However, there is an understanding among members of the Senate that if an appointee lacks the support of his or her Senator, no other Senator will support the appointment. This is known as senatorial courtesy, and is applied without regard to partisanship.

Once a potential appointee receives the necessary support for confirmation from his or her Senator, the Chairman of the Nominations Committee will make a determination as to whether or not that individual must appear before the committee. The committee is composed of seven members who will vote to either positively or negatively recommend a nominee to the full Senate. Generally, only those appointees to boards or commissions of major state agencies, or an otherwise controversial appointee, will be asked to appear. After the committee takes a vote, the process moves to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote. Persons appointed during the legislative session must be confirmed before they begin serving on a board. Those who are appointed during the interim may begin serving at the time of their appointment, but must be confirmed during the next regular session of the Legislature.

During the 79th legislative session, I was selected to become a member of the Senate Nominations Committee that oversees these appointments. I was able to question the various candidates on their goals and evaluate the progress of the agency they had been selected to serve. Nominees to major boards and commissions, and high profile nominees are asked to appear before the Committee. If an agency is undergoing significant problems, then the individual is asked for input and recommendations on the matter.

But who can be appointed? First of all, a candidate who is qualified and follows the application process is eligible. An applicant must be 18 years of age, a United States citizen, not judged incompetent by a court, never convicted of a felony (fulfillment of sentence and pardon exceptions available), a resident of Texas and a registered voter. In most cases, state law prevents a state employee from being appointed to a board or commission. However, there are some boards or commissions which require that a state employee be designated and a few others do not require Senatorial approval.

These are unpaid positions and only the expenses associated with attending meetings are reimbursed. So, to a large extent, the state government of Texas is truly government by the people, with real oversight and control by public-spirited private citizens from throughout the state.

Those wishing to apply may select as many boards as interest them. For the qualifications, vacancies and application information, a person should contact one of my offices in Austin at 512-463-0127, Brownsville at 956-548-0227 and Weslaco at 956-968-9927, or log onto: http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/appointments, or contact the Office of the Governor, P.O. Box 12428, Austin, Texas 78711, Phone: (512) 463-2000, Fax: (512) 463-1849. A person may also contact the Committee on Nominations at 512-463-2084.

Note: Staff member handling this issue is Doris Sanchez, Press Secretary. As always, if you have any input or questions regarding these or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact my office in Austin at 512-463-0385.

*****

Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.'s District 27 Appointees for the 79th Texas Legislative Session

Barrera, Joe A., III
Rio Grande Regional Water Authority
Cascos, Carlos H.
Public Safety Commission
Castaneda, Nora
Texas State Technical College System Board of Regents
Fry, Wilson Benjamin
Texas State Board of Pharmacy
Gomez, Rachel
State Board of Nurse Examiners
Halbert, Wayne
Rio Grande Regional Water Authority
Hernandez, Monica
Council on Sex Offender Treatment
Hoffman, Richard S.
Family and Protective Services Council
Kaniger, Sonia R
Rio Grande Regional Water Authority
Leal, Alma Gloria
Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors
McKenna, Linda Lea
Texas Public Finance Authority
Olvera, J. Rolando
Texas Lottery Commission
Shepard, Robert W.
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Springfield, James G.
State Health Services Council
Steidinger, Jimmie E.
Rio Grande Regional Water Authority
Vassberg, Peggy Lewene
Texas Board of Architectural Examiners
Wipf, Nila T.
Texas Human Rights Commission

Total Appointees: 17

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