Texas

Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives talks about the prospects for anti-LGBTQ bills, gun laws and casinos

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Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Dade Phelan said on Thursday that a select committee he formed in 2021 will consider a range of social issues the Conservatives are putting forward in this legislative session.

During a media briefing at the Capitol, the Beaumont Republican was asked if he had an appetite for the session. GOP legislation targeting LGBTQ Texansin particular, the proposed ban on gender-affirming care for transgender children.

“This will be part of a much larger problem,” Phelan said. “For this particular reason, I have created a special committee on youth health and safety that deals with all these issues, whether it is an issue you are covering or issues in the classroom.”

Phelan said there are “some – very select, I think – school districts” that are “completely inappropriate to interfere in discussions between parents and children.” He noted that he had a first grader, “and if he comes home and talks to me about sexuality in any form or fashion, I’ll be at this school in a few minutes.”

His comments signal some solidarity with those who advocate a Florida-style ban on classroom lessons about gender identity and sexual orientation at the elementary school level. One bill filed in Texas will cover a high school. lieutenant governor Dan Patricksaid the President of the Senate. he wants to pass such a lawwhich critics warn could further marginalize LGBTQ students and their families, exposing teachers to potential legal threats.

Phelan formed a select committee in September 2021, and at the time his office said the goal is to “better coordinate mental health, education, juvenile justice, and family and protective services for Texas youth,” especially in the wake of COVID -nineteen. pandemic. He expanded the committee after last year Massacre in Uvalda and assigned him to investigate school shootings. Chairman of the Commission – Rep. J. M. LozanoR-Kingsville, and its vice chairman is a member of the House of Representatives. Ann JohnsonD-Houston, lesbian.

Phelan said he also wants to focus on the impact of social media on children. After being re-elected speaker on Tuesday, he delivered a speech in which he said big tech companies are “booty.”[ing] on the insecurity of children, making them vulnerable to exploitation, sexualization and indoctrination.”

Phelan has a complicated history with LGBTQ issues. He said in 2019 that he had “done the talk of attacking the gay community”, but in his first year as Speaker, he allowed a controversial bill to pass. limit the participation of transgender students in school sports competitions.

However, Phelan refrained from passing legislation banning gender-affirming childcare despite strong pressure from his right. On Thursday, he did not specifically address the proposal, except to say that it was one of the issues that the special committee would consider.

Here are a few other topics that Phelan touched on at Thursday’s briefing:

Democratic committee chairs

The day after the closing of the long-awaited attempt eliminate the chairmen of the committees of the Democrats in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Phelan defended the practice as a “long tradition” that makes Texas exceptional. He said that so many people move to Texas because “The Texas Legislature, especially the Texas House of Representatives, keeps our promises” to voters.

Chapter 313

Phelan confirmed his desire to revive Chapter 313, corporate tax credit program that lawmakers allowed to expire last year. He said the decision was “a bit short-sighted” and emboldened neighboring states that have their own tax breaks.

“We may have a new program for this session,” Phelan said. “We can have all this oversight and transparency and accountability and hopefully move forward so we can compete with other states.”

Uvalde shooting

Phelan said there would be “much more debate” in the House over the failed attempt law enforcement response before the massacre at Uvalda. He suggested that the House committee investigating the Uvalda shooting might update its report “in the coming days or weeks.” This report first came out in july and cited “system failures” in law enforcement responses. Hundreds of officers who arrived at the school, including those from the Texas Department of Public Safety, did not meet with the shooter for more than an hour after the initial reports of gunshots.

For fate of DPS director Steve McCraw, Phelan said that McCraw “serves to please the governor, and so it’s the governor’s decision.” But Phelan said McCraw was “open” with the House Investigation Committee “and we think he will be just as open at the next meeting.”

Last week, Phelan was in Uvalda and visited the families of the victims. City State Representative, Democrat Tracey Kingcited this clarification during a speech on Tuesday endorsing Phelan’s nomination for speaker.

Phelan said Thursday that King will have a bill in this session to raise the age for purchasing assault weapons, a priority for some Uvalde families. Phelan said he had the “deepest respect” for King, but said – as before – that he did not believe the House of Representatives had the votes to pass such a bill, even repeal it. constitutional issues that the governor Greg Abbott quoted.

“[Those issues] will not interfere with the discussion and discussion of the bill,” Phelan said. “I just know, given that I can count the votes, and I told the families in Uvalde very frankly: “I don’t want to mislead you. I just want to tell you that this is where the votes in the Texas House are.”

Casino

Proponents of gambling expansion in Texas are gearing up for a second push this session. after their proposals failed in 2021. Phelan reiterated that he has no problem with their case, noting that he lives “a stone’s throw away” from a casino in his area, which borders Louisiana.

However, he went on to stress that he didn’t want Texas to have a situation where people “walk into every convenience store and see 15 … slot machines.”

“I want to see high-quality, tourist destination-style casinos that create jobs and improve the lifestyle of these communities,” he said, adding that he thinks “the average voter will approve” of it “these days.”

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