Melissa Noriega, 50, is a special projects manager for the Houston Independent School District. She said she has refused to travel at work because she did not want to leave her son alone, but she said she feels a responsibility to fill in for her husband in the Legislature while he is on active duty.
"This is really an honor, both that my husband would trust me with the responsibility and we've also gotten a lot of feedback from the district. This isn't something we just did," she said. "We've been discussing it with precinct judges and community leaders."
A state constitutional amendment passed last year allowing legislators who are called up to active military duty to designate their replacement until they return or their term of office expires. Noriega won re-election last year while on active duty in Afghanistan.
When asked why her husband chose her as his temporary replacement, Melissa Noriega said, "For one thing, I'll give it back."
The procedures for how she will replace him are not completely in place. But most likely he will be sworn in from Afghanistan when the Legislature convenes Jan. 11. Then he will notify the House chief clerk and parliamentarian of his choice of surrogate.
The full House has the power to reject Noriega's choice, but in this case is expected to seat Melissa Noriega to serve in her husband's place.