AUSTIN, Texas – Proud family members packed the floors of the Texas House and Senate on Tuesday to watch their loved ones get sworn into office on the first day of the 86th Texas Legislature.
The event was an emotional one for Rep. Ina Minjarez, a San Antonio Democrat, who represents District 124. Even though Ina Minjarez has served in two prior legislative sessions, this was the first time her parents witnessed her being sworn into office.
"It's a once-in-a-life-time (event). It's a very special day for us," said Rosa Minjarez, the lawmaker's mother.
Ina Minjarez said she is ready for the new legislative session.
"We've got to deal with a lot of work ahead of us, but what I'm so proud of (is) the delegation. We all bring our passions, we all bring our talents, and we are just asking San Antonio to keep us informed about what it is that you want us to keep advocating for," she said.
Out of 181 lawmakers, 13 of them represent the San Antonio area, including freshman Republican Rep. Steve Allison, who succeeded Joe Straus to represent District 121.
After the swearing-in ceremony, one of the first orders of business was to elect a new House speaker. The honor went to Republican Rep. Dennis Bonnen, of Angleton, who succeeds Straus.
"I am humbled by the confidence placed in me by my fellow members of this House," Bonnen said. "I approach my role as speaker with a great amount of respect for this tremendous institution and for every member who has been sent here to be the voice for their constituents."
Rep. Lyle Larson, of San Antonio, a Republican representing District 122, gave one of the seconding nomination speeches for Bonnen.
The lawmakers plan to tackle matters such as state's flawed school finance system and cutting property taxes.
Rep. Diego Bernal, a San Antonio Democrat who represents District 123, said he believes both issues are important but he urges caution on how to approach them.
"We have to make sure we don't use school finance as a trojan horse for property taxes," he said. "If we are going to do both, we have to do it to where schools and the students are at a minimum, in the end, in significantly better shape."
Ina Minjarez said with Justin Rodriguez leaving the Texas House for the Bexar County Commissioners Court, it's crucial that a San Antonio legislator get on certain committees.
"He (Rodriguez) was on the very important Appropriations Committee, so we definitely need to get one of the San Antonio representatives on that committee, now that he is gone, in order to deal with the budget issues."