Senator Rodney G. Ellis, '79, has passed over 400 pieces of legislation. One of his most notable legislative accomplishments includes passage of the TEXAS Grants Program, which has disbursed almost 1.5 billion dollars. This program has provided free college tuition to over 515,000 students and continues to contribute to a more skilled and competitive Texas workforce. Senator Ellis passed a tax relief bill that created the 3-day sales tax holiday and provided businesses franchise tax relief for job creation, capital investment, and research and development. By the end of the 2005 fiscal year, this bill saved taxpayers over $1.7 billion.
Senator Ellis also authored the James Byrd, Jr., Act, an anti-hate crimes bill, and has been recognized for his leadership in improving and protecting the integrity of the Texas criminal justice system by increasing indigent criminal defense funding and fighting to ban the execution of the mentally retarded.
Senator Ellis currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Organization. This Committee looks at ways to improve the efficiency of Texas state government. He also sits on the Senate State Affairs, Criminal Justice and Transportation and Homeland Security Committees. Over the course of his time in the Senate, Senator Ellis has chaired the Senate Finance, Jurisprudence and Intergovernmental Relations Committees.
Senator Ellis is the co-founder of Apex Securities, Inc., an investment banking firm that is affiliated with Rice Financial Products Company, a financial services firm. Senator Ellis currently serves as a Trustee on the University of Texas Law School Foundation, and as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Innocence Project, Inc. of New York.
Prior to his election to the Texas Senate in 1990, Senator Ellis served three terms as a member of the Houston City Council and as chief of staff to the late U.S. Congressman Mickey Leland. He holds a bachelor's degree from Texas Southern University and a master's degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, along with his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. Ellis also studied at Xavier University of New Orleans and the London School of Economics.
Senator Ellis is married to Licia Green-Ellis and has four children.