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Local News

Rep. Dade Phelan sworn in as Texas House Speaker on opening day of 2021 Texas Legislative Session

todayJanuary 12, 2021

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The 87th Texas Legislative session officially kicked off Tuesday as Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont was elected the new Texas House Speaker. After being sworn in, Phelan spoke of goals for the new session which included talk of education, revitalizing the economy and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The subject of bars and restaurants was also mentioned as the new Speaker said, “51 years after putting a man on the moon, we figured out how to sell margaritas to go.” His remarks followed Governor Abbott’s opening comments to the House where he stated that it is essential to continue allowing the sale of alcohol to go.

The House plans on taking up its rules for the session on Thursday before adjourning until January 26. The Texas Senate announced it would pass its rules later in the week, also adjourning until January 26. Lawmakers are not expected to be conducting business during possible protests which may occur on January 17 and 20.

More than 100 Texas troopers, including some wearing tactical vests and carrying riot gear, stood on guard outside the state Capitol amid FBI warnings of armed protests at statehouses across the country. Texas National Guard members also patrolled outside the Capitol as a small number of demonstrators were present. The Texas Department of Public Safety has said it would deploy more security to the Capitol during the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The Capitol was open to visitors, but anyone entering the building was required to take a COVID-19 test, after 13,000 new novel coronavirus cases were reported in Texas Monday. The events Tuesday were limited in size and length to comply with social distancing requirements and to avoid large groups of people in an enclosed space for an extended period of time.

One Texas lawmaker managed to find an alternative to the abbreviated opening ceremonies due to concerns about COVID-19. Rep. Armando Walle (D), who represents Texas House District 140 said, “My boys and family were not happy about missing swearing-in day. It’s always a special occasion.” Walle posted a tweet of himself wearing a mask and holding cutouts of his two young sons.


Written by: Michelle Layton

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