McALLEN, Texas — (Border Report) — Two South Texas state senators drew short straws in a Legislature lottery draw to determine which lawmakers will serve two or four-year terms.
Texas Sens. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and newcomer Morgan LaMantia, both Democrats representing the South Texas border, will each serve two-year terms. State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a Democrat from Laredo, was the only South Texas member to draw a four-year term in Wednesday’s lottery held in Austin.
The Texas Constitution requires all Texas Senate members who are elected after redistricting to draw lots to determine how long they will serve. After that, senators are elected to serve four-year terms for the next decade. The lottery ensures that half the Senate will stagger district elections every two years.
Following Wednesday’s lottery at the State Capitol, Hinojosa issued this statement: “I am honored that the voters of Senate District 20 have placed their trust in me by re-electing me in 2020 and 2022. By drawing a two-year term, I look forward to the opportunity for re-election next year. I will work tirelessly this session to continue addressing issues that are a priority for our families, the business community, and that improve our quality of life and the Texas economy.”
He said issues he intends to focus on include education, health care, the economy, workforce development and boosting the South Texas infrastructure.
Hinojosa did not mention immigration or border security. Last January, he was appointed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to the new interim Border Security Committee, which oversaw state funding of border security initiatives, like Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star.
Over $4 billion in state funds have been allocated for border security, which include the building of more border barriers in South Texas.
Hinojosa served as vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee from 2009 to 2020, and it is expected he will repeat in that role. However Senate committee assignments have not yet been announced by Patrick’s office.
LaMantia, the first woman to represent Texas Senate District 27, which includes Brownsville, made no statement on the shorter term, and ended the week with a positive tweet, writing: “What a great first week of session! I enjoyed meeting with so many of my colleagues and constituents that came to my office.”
Zaffirini posted on her Facebook page: “A 4-YEAR TERM! … This gives me the opportunity to concentrate on serving the families of our district without also running a campaign.”
She said the senators drew alphabetically and there was one 2-year-term and one 4-year-term left open by the time she got to pick. She said Sen. John Whitmire, a Democrat from Houston, drew a 2-year term and that left her the remaining 4-year slot. “I was delighted,” she wrote.