Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) appointed Representative Will Hartnett (R-Dallas) to serve as "master of discovery" to determine a winner in the Donna Howard-Dan Neil race in House District 48
Hartnett will be charged with "supervise discovery proceedings, issue any necessary process, receive and report evidence, and perform any other assigned duties in assisting the committee to which the contest is referred and the house of representatives in disposing of the contest in accordance with Chapters 221 and 241, Election Code," according to the order issued by Speaker Straus' office late this afternoon.
Howard, the Democratic incumbent, had a 16-vote margin over Neil, the Republican challenger, after Election Day counting. A recount earlier this month showed Howard with a 12-vote lead over Neil, who then asked the House to decide the outcome of the election. Under current rules, Howard will be sworn in for a new term when the legislature convenes January 11. But Hartnett's report will provide a basis for a House committee to determine whether she or Neil will serve the remainder of the two-year term.