The Texas Senate gaveled into session shortly after noon Tuesday for a ceremonial start to the 85th legislative session.
Senators who ran for office in 2017, including three newcomers — Republicans Dawn Buckingham and Bryan Hughes, and Democrat Borris Miles — took the oath of office administered by Nathan Hecht, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court.
With the 31 senators sitting at desks surrounded by seated family members, Gov. Greg Abbott led the session with remarks that avoided policy statements or requests for action, focusing instead on the themes of responsibility and integrity.
Abbott reminded senators that they will help decide the future of a state where “anyone from anywhere has a chance to come here and succeed,” a place where “generations of Texans have persevered through countless tribulations with the typical Texas character.”
“We may bring different political perspectives, but we unite under one Capitol dome,” Abbott said, adding that elected officials serve a “cause that makes Texas far more than just a state, it’s a cause that makes Texas a passion.”
Senators also elected Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, as the body’s president pro tem to fill in for Patrick and to act as governor when Abbott and Patrick are out of state at the same time.
“It’s a great honor,” Seliger said, recalling the awe he felt when he first arrived in the Senate almost 13 years ago. “I can honestly say today that I’m not one less bit impressed, awed and inspired.”