Halfway through session, Sen. Sylvia Garcia just getting started
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While state lawmakers are halfway through the legislative session, two of them are just getting started.
Democratic Sen. Sylvia Garcia was elected just at the beginning of the month to fill the seat of the late Sen. Mario Gallegos, who died in October. It was too late to remove his name from the ballot for the November election, so Garcia is just now joining her colleagues under the pink dome.
"The time period is gone for filing bills, but you can always amend bills, pick up bills from the House. You can work with state senators that have already filed bills that mean a lot to my district," she said. "All I need now is more time, because I just can't keep up with everything."
And as Garcia works to keep up, a recent opponent of hers may have a slight advantage over her in the House.
"Thank goodness I had already filed a bunch of bills so it was just trying to get up to speed," Democratic Rep. Carol Alvarado said.
After losing to Garcia in the runoff election for Gallego’s seat in the Senate, Alvarado returned to her House seat. She said she sought the Senate because she felt she could be more effective as one of 31 rather than 150.
But she says the loss is also a gain.
"I think it's made me work harder, smarter," Alvarado said.
And the two say they'll work together to best serve their constituents during their time in office.
And while Garcia is off to a late start, she’ll have a couple more years to catch up.
Due to the recent redistricting, senators drew straws at the beginning of the session to determine their term length—either two or four years. With Gallego’s spot vacant, someone else had to draw for District 6.
"The secretary of the Senate drew for me and I love her to death because she drew four," Garcia said.
Sen. Garcia is the former Harris County Commissioner. Rep. Alvarado is in her third term in the Texas House.