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Lt. Gov. Dewhurst announces Senate Committee chairs

The 83rd Texas Legislative session starts in just a couple of months.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced the Senate Committee Chair appointments Thursday. He says the positions match each member’s specific talents.

Here’s the full list, from Dewhurst’s office:

Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) appointed Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education. He recently served as Chair of the Senate Committee on Redistricting.

Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation, succeeding Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) who was recently appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance.

Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Government Organization.

Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Open Government.

Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security,

Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) has been appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Education. Sen. Patrick succeeds Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) who announced her retirement from the Texas Senate in September 2011.

Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-McAllen) is appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations.

Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) is appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Nominations.

Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Jurisprudence.

Senator Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) is appointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development. This position was formerly filled by Sen. Mike Jackson (R-La Porte).

Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) will serve as Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, succeeding Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) who announced his retirement following the 82nd Legislature.

Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) has been reappointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.

Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) has been reappointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on State Affairs.

Senator John Carona (R-Dallas) is reappointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce.

Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) is reappointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources after previously serving as Chair of the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce.

Senator Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) is reappointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Administration.

Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston) is reappointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice.

Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) is reappointed as Chair of the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Installations.

Appeals court upholds open meetings law

A federal court has decided to uphold the Texas Open Meetings Law.

The three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a group of local officials from across the state Tuesday.

The local officials argued that the Open Meetings Act stifled their free speech because it prohibits government officials from gathering to deliberate secretly.

A U.S. district judge disagreed and ruled against them back in 2009, which led to them filing an appeal, but the appeals court affirmed the district court’s ruling.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis talks current strategy of the Democratic Party



State Senator Rodney Ellis stopped by our Capital Tonight set at the Democratic National Convention to talk about the current strategy of the Democratic Party.

Watch the entire interview in the video above.

State Rep. Mark Strama talks inspiration and early days in politics



State Representative Mark Strama sat down with YNN’s Paul Brown to discuss his inspiration in politics and what led him into the world of public service.

Watch the entire interview in the video below.

RNC Photos: Republicans rally behind Romney and Ryan

The Republican National Convention has been convened in Tampa this week. Check out some photos from the convention in the gallery below:

Abbott: We were offended by the court’s decision



YNN’s Paul Brown caught up with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott after speaking to the Texas Delegation Wednesday morning.

Abbott commented on the decision made by a federal appeals court in Washington D.C. Tuesday to reject the most recent legislative district maps.

“We were offended by yesterday’s decision because it goes beyond the outer bounds of where redistricting law had been before, and we believe it actually contradicts what the U.S. Supreme Court said earlier this year,” he said.

Abott says he believes the Supreme Court will overturn the decision made by the three-panel judge but says he doesn’t think it will have any effect on the upcoming general election.

“I don’t think anyone has to be concerned about either elections or districts right now because the elections this November will take place based upon the interim maps,” he said.

As to Abbott’s political future, he said he’s focused on the campaign to elect Mitt Romney because he said this election will not only affect us but also the next generation.

He said Wednesday’s crowd was, “fired up to vote Mitt Romney in and get Barack Obama out.”

Check out the video above to see what more Abbott had to say.

RNC Photos: Behind the Scenes

Our YNN and Capital Tonight crews are hard at work at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Check out some of their behind the scenes work in the gallery below:

RNC Photos: Texas Delegation

Check out photos of the Texas Delegation at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Photos from day one of RNC

Cruz to headline RNC convention



The Republican National Committee announced Wednesday U.S. Senate nominee Ted Cruz will be the headliner at the party’s upcoming convention in Tampa Bay.

Cruz, a darling of the Tea Party, is the former Texas Solicitor General who won the nomination last Tuesday, beating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

The 2012 Republican National Convention will be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Aug. 27-30.

YNN’s Capital Tonight Team will be there bringing you live coverage throughout the week.