January 8, 2019
The 86th Legislature started a few hours ago.
The first day is always special. I never want to lose the feeling I get walking into that wonderful Senate chamber as we start a session of doing the state’s business, which impacts every single Texan. I feel optimistic and excited regardless of disagreements to come or concern about how things might play out.
I took the Senate oath of office for the fifth time today. I’m pretty proud to say that I was re-elected with the highest total vote count and the largest raw vote spread of any Senate candidate this cycle.
But that wasn’t the only oath I took today. I was also elected as the President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate for the legislative session.
The President Pro Tempore of the Senate is a constitutional office chosen pursuant to the Senate rules and is traditionally a senior Senate member. The President Pro Tem is in the line of succession to the Governor and serves as Governor in the absence of the Governor and Lt. Governor. Of course, I’m deeply honored and proud.
A moment to think
This moment in time has me thinking about what it means to serve, to be a public servant. For me, it comes down to one’s purpose and calling, a sense of urgency, and priorities. I hope you’ll read the short speech I gave today.
I believe that, while we’re all different people, we’re all in this together. We’re called to seek our purpose, to play our parts, and to trust that our strengths and gifts will be amplified when others play their parts appropriately. I also feel strongly that, in order to get things done, service requires urgency. Every minute we waste is gone.
Our priorities give shape to our service. My priorities — education, healthcare, equal rights, government transparency, opportunity — haven’t changed much since I was first in elective office, but I do have a new sense of urgency. You can call that the “Effie Effect”.
Effie is my 13-month-old granddaughter. She’s made my priorities more real. More immediate. More personal. She has her whole life ahead of her, and the decisions we make over the next 140 days could shape that life.
But not just Effie, of course. Our decisions between now and May will touch 28.7 million Texans. More than 7 million of them are children — just like Effie. Their whole lives are ahead of them, too.
It’s time to make it our purpose — our calling — to make all Texans, particularly the children, a priority. And not waste any time doing so.
A moment to thank
This is also a moment to say thank you to the people of Austin and Central Texas that have allowed me to serve in elective office for such a long time now. Liz and I ended up in Austin in 1981, thinking we’d only be here a year. This town wrapped itself around us and, well, here we are almost 40 years later.
The people, the place, the passion and the prospects of Austin and Central Texas still excite me. It’s neat to be allowed to be in the middle of so much of it and to continue to feel the embrace of the people.
Time to go to work.