TX Speaker, GOP Priorities at Odds


Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan | Image by NBC 2

(The Center Square) – Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, announced his legislative priorities for the 2023 legislative session, which notably exclude border security and Republican Party of Texas legislative priorities. They prioritize expanding Medicaid and ensuring feminine hygiene products are exempt from state sales tax.

After Phelan released his priorities, Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi asked on Twitter if they were “real.”

According to a news release Phelan published on social media, his priorities are real. The speaker also issued a statement saying he was “proud” of them. His legislative priorities, he said, include “improving privacy and security of all Texans as well as supporting mothers and children.”

They include four bills but don’t include an overarching legislative agenda, unlike Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s, which includes 30 sweeping legislative priorities, critics note.

Listed as the top of four priorities is HB 4, the Texas Data and Privacy and Security Act, filed by state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Keller. It would “grant Texans new online rights, including the ability to crack down on how companies collect, and in instances profit from, their personal data.”

HB 12, filed by Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas, is listed second. It would expand Medicaid eligibility and coverage to new mothers. HB 18, the Securing Children Online through Parental Empowerment Act, filed by Rep. Shelby Slawson, R-Stephenville, is third on the list. It would provide parents with additional tools to prevent companies from collecting data about their children online. HR 300, filed by Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, listed fourth, exempts feminine hygiene products and baby diapers and wipes from state sales taxes.

Phelan said he was “so proud” of the work members put into filing the four bills, “which reflects some of the most pressing issues on the minds of Texans today.” He also said the bills “are great starting points for our chamber as we work to get them over the finish line this legislative session.”

No statewide or Republican Party polls have listed data and online privacy, expanding Medicaid, or exempting feminine products from state sales tax as legislative priorities.

The Republican Party of Texas’ legislative priorities include election integrity, border security, banning gender modification of children, stopping the “sexualization of Texas kids,” banning Democrats from chairing committees – in response to Phelan prioritizing Democrats over Republicans – abolishing abortion, defending gun rights, protecting parental rights and expanding education freedom.

According to a recent Texas Public Policy Foundation poll, Texans, including Democrats polled, prioritized border security/illegal immigration as the top issue the legislature should address (24%), followed by education (8%), social issues (7%), and the economy (5%).

An overwhelming majority, 91%, said they support health care price transparency; 80% oppose taxpayer-funded lobbying and want it banned; 73% said they want more school choice options, including 77% of Independents and 66% of Democrats.

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