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2 East Texas senators named to special committee in response to Uvalde school shooting

Gov. Greg Abbott has asked the special committee to study school safety, mental health, social media, police training and firearm safety.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's Note: This video is from June 2, 2022.

Two East Texas senators will serve on a special committee addressing issues like school safety, mental health and firearm safety in light of the Uvalde elementary school shooting. 

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced last week the members and leaders for the Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans, including Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville and Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Tyler. 

Gov. Greg Abbott has asked the special committee to study school safety, mental health, social media, police training and firearm safety.

Patrick said the committee members represent a "cross section of school districts and communities of all sizes across the state."

Nichols will lead the committee as chairman. In his announcement, Patrick noted that Nichols is an engineer by profession. 

According to his profile on the Texas Senate website, Nichols is a businessman who built four successful manufacturing facilities, earned 32 U.S. patents and 128 foreign patents and created 900 jobs for East Texas families. He has been a senator since 2006.

"It's an honor to serve the state in this capacity during these difficult times. To the families, friends, and communities impacted by mass violence, know that this committee is committed to listening to you and developing significant reforms for the State of Texas," Nichols said in a statement.  "I look forward to working together with my colleagues to further enhance safety and security in our schools, improve mental health resources, investigate the impacts and influence of social media on Texas teens, examine and enhance police training, and consider firearm safety policy."

Hughes has served in the Senate since 2017 after being a representative in the House for 14 years. He works in private law practice to help families and businesses solve problems and deal with difficult challenges, according to the Senate website.

Patrick said he asked Nichols to hold his hearing on June 23 or a date shortly thereafter. 

"I want to give the families and the community of Uvalde time to complete all funeral services before beginning hearings so those who wish to testify may take part," Patrick said in a statement. "I have asked Chair Nichols to coordinate with the House of Representatives Chair to hold their hearings on the same date, if possible, to accommodate both invited and public witnesses."

Patrick added that before the creation of this committee, he sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath to request an extension through the end of the next legislative session for applying for school safety grants.

These grants were set to expire May 31 and there's still almost $14 million in the fund that schools could still request.

Patrick added his office is working with Attorney General Ken Paxton's office to ensure payments from the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund, once approved, are expedited.

"All of us working together is the answer. Now is not the time for politics," Patrick said. "It is all about doing all we can so that we never see another tragedy like this happen again in Texas."

Other committee members include Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe (co-vice chair), Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham (co-vice chair), Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, and Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo. 

RELATED: Is the recent gun control debate affecting East Texas firearm sales?

RELATED: 'She is a miracle': Family of Uvalde survivor recounts elementary school shooting terror

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