By: Mike Ward
Houston Chronicle, January 27, 2016
AUSTIN — Houston state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a close ally of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, was elected chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus Tuesday night.
Bettencourt replaced Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, who stepped aside after Patrick last month named him chairman of the powerful Senate Business and Commerce Committee that has a heavy agenda during the legislative interim.
Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, will serve as vice chair — a move that, with Bettencourt as chair,will give the Houston area additional clout in Senate.
Bettencourt, an outgoing lawmaker and fiscally conservative voice who was elected to the seat in 2014 to replace then-senator Patrick after Patrick won the state’s No. 2 elective office over incumbent David Dewhurst, is the former Harris County tax assessor and collector who has been active in GOP politics for years.
Bettencourt said he looks forward to using the post to help “develop innovative conservative solutions to Texas challenges . . . as we address pressing issues like border security, infrastructure and transportation, education, property taxes and many others.”
The Senate’s GOP caucus is actively involved in setting the legislative agenda in the Republican-controlled Upper Chamber, and the post has become an increasingly higher profile in recent years as the Senate has become more partisan and as the conservative GOP majority has grown in size.