Speaker Dade Phelan Issues Statement on 2023 Legislative Achievements Following House Adjourning Sine Die

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AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan today released a statement regarding the passage of historic border security legislation in the fourth-called special session and the many legislative achievements delivered to Texans by the Legislature over the course of the year:

“The Texas House concludes the special session today having passed strong border security measures that will soon cross Governor Abbott’s desk to be signed into law. Amid the Biden Administration’s continued disregard for the safety and security of our communities, this legislation sends a clear message that we, as a state, will not stand by as the federal government allows a historic flood of illegal immigration and cartel-fueled chaos to endanger Texans and damage private property. We have seen this unprecedented crisis extend far beyond border communities, with deadly drugs like fentanyl taking the lives of innocent people across the country and human traffickers profiting off the Biden Administration’s open borders. I am proud of the hard work and dedication the Texas House has shown in addressing this escalating crisis, and I thank my House colleagues for joining me in the fourth-called special session to better secure the Texas-Mexico border.”

Border security legislation passed by the Texas House in the most recent special session includes:

  • Senate Bill 3: allocating an additional $1.54 billion for construction, operation, and maintenance of border barrier infrastructure and border security operations, in addition to the $5.1 billion investment on border security from the regular session.
  • Senate Bill 4: creating a criminal offense related to illegal entry or presence in Texas and authorizing a judge or magistrate to order the removal of persons who violate the law.

These measures build upon other strong border security initiatives passed by the Texas Legislature earlier in the year, including:

  • Designating Mexican cartels as foreign terrorist organizations;
  • Prosecuting fentanyl deaths as murder;
  • Empowering border patrol to arrest criminals for state offenses; and
  • Deterring crime along the border by increasing the mandatory minimum sentence for human smuggling and operating a stash house.

“Over the course of 2023, the Texas House has worked tirelessly to continue laying the groundwork for a safer, more promising future for all Texans. Whether historic property tax relief for home and business owners, expanding access to quality health care and behavioral health care services, investing in infrastructure expansion and improvement projects, boosting workforce development, and cost-of-living adjustments for retired teachers, Texas House members came together to address the most important issues facing our respective districts and our state as a whole. As Texas continues to grow and lead the nation in economic opportunity, I am confident the many wide-ranging achievements of the 88th Legislature will continue to keep our state the most promising in the nation.”

In addition to those outlined above, this year, the 88th Legislature delivered a broad range of victories for Texas, including:

  • Providing roughly $18 billion in historic property tax relief;
  • Providing nearly $5 billion for a cost-of-living adjustment for retired teachers;
  • Increasing the penalty for illegal voting;
  • Improving school safety, including requiring an armed security officer at each public school campus, compliance with stronger safety and security protocols and youth mental health training for certain personnel;
  • Allocating $9.4 billion toward behavioral health, including mental health community hospitals and grants, increasing mental health beds across Texas and creating a new outpatient behavioral health clinic in House District 21;
  • Investing more than $1 billion in the expansion of broadband to improve connectivity especially in rural areas;
  • Ensuring Texas has the water supply needed for continued growth through the creation of a $1 billion water fund;
  • Increasing funding for flood control, drainage and mitigation projects that will better equip the state to recover from catastrophic disasters like Hurricane Harvey;
  • Extending Medicaid coverage for pregnant women to 12 months postpartum and improving health outcomes for pregnant women;
  • Enhancing accountability for District Attorneys who fail to sufficiently defend Texas law;
  • Removing local bureaucratic red tape that contributes to high home prices and slow, burdensome housing development;
  • Creating a new specialty business court, ensuring disputes are reviewed by those with certain expertise and resolved in a timely manner;
  • Establishing grant programs to support nursing students and attract more doctors to the psychiatric specialty with the goal of easing the nurse shortage and increasing the number of physicians specializing in pediatric or adult psychiatric care;
  • Protecting Texas children from gender modification surgeries;
  • Banning Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) offices at colleges and universities;
  • Safeguarding Texans’ privacy and personal data rights by cracking down on businesses who capture and sell their data;
  • Providing an increase of $5 billion for the construction, maintenance and improvement of state highways;
  • Expanding benefits available for the families of members of the Texas military forces who have died on active duty;
  • Designating $9.9 billion to fund the formulas at Texas institutions of higher education;
  • Creating a new economic development program focused on attracting businesses to relocate or expand in Texas;
  • Protecting Texas children from exposure to explicit adult content, including by banning pornographic materials in school libraries, prohibiting drag shows in front of minors and requiring websites and social media platforms that publish or distribute harmful sexual material to verify a user is over the age of 18;
  • Empowering parents with greater control over their child’s social media usage and data, improving online safety for minors;
  • Protecting the individual rights of employees of private companies by banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates;
  • Increasing the availability of childcare/pre-K programs;
  • Protecting college women’s sports by prohibiting biological males from competing on a team designated for female students;
  • Allowing infrastructure hardening and other resiliency measures for non-ERCOT utilities;
  • Reforming tenure at Texas universities, ensuring those who earn it uphold their professional and ethical responsibilities;
  • Exempting menstrual, maternity and family care items from sales taxes; and
  • Developing a statewide strategic plan for the semiconductor industry in Texas.