In the next congress, Republican Lamar Smith will be giving up his powerful chairmanship on the House Judicial Committee to become chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
Smith will lead the committee that has oversight over NASA and other Texas research institutions.
The science committee is important to Texas because in addition to keeping an eye on NASA, other research programs that could be affected include: San Antonio’s Southwest Research Institute, Texas Biomedical Research Institute, and the University of Texas Health Science Center.
Smith has said his goals for the post include maintaining funding for research and pushing legislation to create jobs in science and technology fields.
However, there are critics who point out that Smith is a vocal skeptic of man-made climate change.
While Smith served as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee he mounted an effort to regulate the internet with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which resulted in a backlash and protest blackout of popular websites like Wikipedia.
Open internet supporters wonder if Smith will use his new post on the science committee to once again try to pass a SOPA-like bill that they say will limit the free exchange of ideas on the internet.