AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL marksman who inspired the Hollywood blockbuster "American Sniper," got an official day in Texas.
The House got a new chief budget writer in Republican Rep. John Otto of Dayton. And the Democratic Party got its second new executive director in less than two years, with 32-year-old San Antonio native Crystal Perkins hoping her chops as a national fundraiser can help end the party's two-decade losing streak in statewide elections. The promotions could be bittersweet since both Otto and Perkins likely have their work cut out for them.
Meanwhile, jury selection has begun for the Iraq war veteran accused of gunning down Kyle at a Glen Rose shooting range in 2013.
Here's a look at who had a strong week — and who didn't — in Texas politics.
The former governor announced that nearly four dozen top donors have signed on to support RickPAC, the group helping Perry gear up for an expected 2016 presidential run. The list could assuage other would-be financial backers' fears that Perry can't compete in a crowded field of Republican White House contenders given his past "oops" moment and possible future felony abuse-of-power trial. In addition to big dollars, Perry's list packs a lot of sports punch. Peter Holt owns the San Antonio Spurs and Red McCombs helped bring the team to the Alamo City in the 1970s. Drayton McLane Jr. is former chairman of the Houston Astros and Jamie McCourt was a top Los Angeles Dodgers executive before her nasty divorce. Then there's Cody Campbell, who was an offensive lineman at Texas Tech before signing with the Indianapolis Colts — though he never actually played a game for them.
The 19 representatives who voted against House Speaker Joe Straus
Republican Rep. Scott Turner and a vocal band of supporters tried to lead a tea party revolt against Straus on the opening day of the session, but were defeated 127-19 in a speaker's race floor vote. Straus has now taken some revenge, sending many of those who opposed him to low-profile House committees. Turner will serve on Government Transparency and Operation, and he and two allies make up nearly half of the International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. Another popular destination for those who backed Turner is the Special Purpose Districts Committee, which hunts for governance inefficiencies in things like hospital and water districts.
The rest of the Texas Legislature
Both chambers met for only two and half days and didn't stay longer than a few minutes each time. House committees were only just announced and their Senate counterparts are still in the early stages of meeting. Next week's agenda could be equally light since constitutional statute says it's still too early to pass most bills. New Gov. Greg Abbott could fast-track legislation by listing his emergency priorities — but he won't deliver his State of the State address until the following week, on Feb. 17.