Republican Speaker of the House Dade Phelan announced some of the key policy priorities for the House for the 2023 legislative session, with an emphasis on criminal justice, health care reform, infrastructure and the economy.
Phelan released his interim charges on Thursday, giving Texans an idea of what policy items will be of top priority for the House in the coming year and during the next legislative session.
Thursday night, he added one other priority to the list after news reports revealed a facility in Bastrop is being investigated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for allegedly abusing girls who had already been victims of sex trafficking.
“Unacceptable & nauseating. Under the interim charges my office issued earlier today, the House will begin to hold hearings on this issue ASAP. I’ve reached out to @RepJamesFrank & we agree action must be taken. We must do everything in our power to stop this kind of evil,” Phelan wrote on social media.
Because Texas lawmakers only officially meet at the Capitol in Austin 140 days every other year, both the Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House give their members assignments to work on during non-legislative years. During this time, lawmakers hold hearings for public and invited testimony, research the topics and issue reports that are considered when drafting bills during the session.
“These charges touch on the most pressing issues facing Texans, from improving the quality and safety of our state’s foster care system to confronting our state’s growing infrastructure demands,” Phelan said in a news release. “As House committees formally kick off their work for the interim, I’m confident that their research and recommendations on these topics will position our chamber to tackle these priorities in an effective and productive manner once the Legislature convenes in January.”
Phelan said conversations with House members led him to create new interim committees that will focus on reforming the state’s health care and criminal justice systems.
In a proclamation detailing the duties of the House Committee on Health Care Reform, Phelan tasks the 11 members with studying the implications of “excessive” health care costs on the efficacy of Texas Medicaid and the private health insurance market and how it affects Texans.