The Texas Senate has a new member, Democrat Sylvia Garcia of Houston.
Garcia was sworn in to office Monday after winning a special election March 2 to replace the late Sen. Mario Gallegos.
Garcia is a former Harris County commissioner, social worker, attorney and judge. She defeated state Rep. Carol Alvarado to become the seventh female member of the state Senate.
Garcia taking office now gives Democrats 12 seats in the 31-member Senate, a key voting bloc in the Republican-majority chamber. Her first vote was to join the other Senators in unanimous approval of a list of Gov. Rick Perry's appointments.
Gallegos, a Democrat, died of liver disease in October. It was too late to remove his name from the November ballot, and he was posthumously re-elected.