AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan announced some of the House’s top policy priorities for the 2023 legislative session, with a focus on criminal justice, health care reform, infrastructure and the economy.
Phelan released his interim charges Thursday, giving Texans an idea of which policy items will be priorities for the House over the coming year and in the next legislative session.
Thursday evening he added another 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 previously been sex trafficked.
“Unacceptable & nauseating. Under the interim charges issued by my office earlier today, the House will begin hearings on this matter as soon as possible. I have contacted @RepJamesFrank & we agree that action needs to be taken. We must do everything in our power to stop this kind of evil,” Phelan wrote on social media.
Since Texas legislators only formally meet at the Capitol in Austin for only 140 days every two years, the lieutenant governor and speaker of the House give their members assignments to work on during nonlegislative years. Meanwhile, lawmakers hold hearings for public and guest testimony, research topics, and release 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 meeting our state’s growing infrastructure demands,” said Phelan in a press release. “As House committees formally begin their work for the interim, I am confident that their research and recommendations on these topics will enable our House to tackle these priorities effectively and productively once the Legislative Assembly will meet in January.”
Phelan said conversations with House members led him to create new interim committees that would focus on reforming the state’s health care and criminal justice systems.
In one 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 effectiveness of Texas Medicaid and the health insurance market privacy and how it affects Texans.