DADE PHELAN — Texas Legislature enters final sprint of regular session
Published 12:02 am Sunday, May 7, 2023
During every odd-numbered year in Texas, the beginning of May also marks the beginning of our final sprint at the Texas Legislature. And though we still have a few weeks left of this year’s regular legislative session, the rest of this month will be filled with lengthy days at the state Capitol as committees wrap up their business and our two chambers work together to get legislation to the governor’s desk.
One of the top priorities of the Texas House this legislative session is to protect our children from the various threats they face today — from in the classroom to social media and beyond.
Next week, our chamber is set to consider Senate Bill 14 to shield Texas kids from receiving life-altering procedures or therapies related to transitioning their gender before they become an adult. I support this measure and look forward to the Texas House passing it soon.
Additionally, our chamber has spent the past couple of weeks passing other bills aimed at protecting our kids, such as beefing up security on school campuses across the state, empowering parents with more oversight over the content found in school libraries and better supporting our educators.
House Bill 900, otherwise known as the Restricting Explicit and Adult-Designated Educational Resources Act, was just approved in the Texas House and addresses the rising concerns among Texas parents over inappropriate or sexually explicit materials found in public schools. The legislation, a priority for our chamber this year, establishes mandatory review standards and creates additional parental controls over the current book collection process for campuses.
Our chamber also voted out House Bill 18, or the Securing Children Online through Parental Empowerment Act, which requires parental consent before a child can create an account with digital service providers. It is well known that social media companies often use addicting or even predatory algorithms to collect personal data on users, and this great bill aims to put an end to that with our children. Under the legislation, parents will also have the ability to see what data is collected on their children and to prevent that information from being sold.
On the school safety front, members of the Texas House recently passed House Bill 3, which invests at least $15,000 in new dollars into every public school for security purposes and requires at least one armed employee on each campus. The legislation will also improve coordination and communication between local school districts and state actors, including the Texas Education Agency, to ensure that safety protocols have the necessary support and are implemented accordingly.
Our chamber has also recently passed two other notable school safety proposals: House Bill 13, which devotes more resources to mental and behavioral health resources on campuses, such as establishing additional training for educators to better detect the signs of when mental health intervention may be needed with students, and Senate Bill 838, which requires schools to provide classrooms with silent panic alert technology.
These two bills will make meaningful strides in how students and educators are supported, both from a mental health and safety perspective, and I am proud of my colleagues for their work in passing these important pieces of legislation.
These bills are just a quick glance at what the Texas House has been up to in recent weeks. And as this next month plays out and we approach the finish line for the regular session of the 88th Legislature, our chamber is sure to be busy amid legislative deadlines and discussions with our counterparts in the Texas Senate.
As I have said before, the Texas House is committed to delivering meaningful results for Texans, and I look forward to reporting back in a month’s time on what additional accomplishments our chamber passed to make our state — and House District 21 — a better place for living, working and raising a family.
Thank you for your support and interest in following this year’s legislative session. I look forward to being back in Southeast Texas soon.
Dade Phelan is the State Representative for House District 21 and Texas House Speaker. His office can be reached at (512) 463-1000 in Austin and (409) 745-2777 in Orange. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.