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First Day of the Texas Legislature Kicks Off: Phelan Elected Speaker of the Texas House

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The opening of the 87th Texas Legislative session began with the nomination and election of the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and the President Pro-Tempore of the Texas Senate. 

Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) was elected speaker. Phelan’s candidacy for speaker drew some criticism from Republican Party of Texas Chairman Allen West late last year, stating in an email that the party would not support “a potential Texas Speaker of the House who would seek affirmation from progressive socialist Democrats to attain that position.” Phelan was first elected to the house in 2014.

Only two Republican lawmakers voted against Phelan for the Speakership, Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royce City) and Rep. Jeff Cason (R-Bedford). The final vote was 143-2. 

Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) was elected president pro-tempore of the senate. Birdwell was first elected to the senate in 2010 and is a survivor of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack against The Pentagon.

The Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick, is President of the Senate. Unlike many other states that also place the Lieutenant Governor as President of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas often takes an active role in the position, though the President Pro-Tempore does preside over the chamber whenever it dissolves into the Committee of the Whole.

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