Dade Phelan elected Texas House Speaker

Phelan is the 76th Texas House Speaker

Dade Phelan 1 12

The members of the Texas House of Representatives today elected State Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) as Speaker of the House.

State Representatives and their invited guests convened in the House Chamber at the State Capitol this afternoon for the opening day of the 87th Legislature. Members were first sworn into office before voting Rep. Phelan in as the 76th Speaker of the Texas House.

Speaker Phelan was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, and following his Oath of Office, addressed the House chamber in his first remarks as Speaker of the House.

Speaker Phelan’s Opening Day Address
**Please note Speaker Phelan may have deviated from prepared remarks.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Madam Secretary and Justice Guzman, thank you for playing such an essential part in today’s proceedings and for your service to our state.

Bishop Guillory, my friend and spiritual counsel from Southeast Texas, your prayerful words are so appreciated in these turbulent, challenging times. 

Nicole and J.M., Thank you for your kind words. I’m grateful for your friendship.

And Will, my former desk mate, I know you talked me into running for Speaker so you didn’t have to sit next to me anymore, but I thank you nonetheless.

And to our guests, I welcome you to your Texas House.

Members, I am grateful for your support to be the next Speaker of the Texas House.

The confidence you have placed in me today will serve as a constant reminder of what you expect — and what this great institution deserves — of me as Speaker.

I would not be here today without the enduring love and support of my wife, Kim. While I may now preside as Speaker of the Texas House, Kim will always be the Speaker’s Speaker.

I, like any member of this body, am only as strong as the people who support me.

Kim is that strong, loving mother and wife. She is an accomplished attorney, executive director of a non-profit for at risk youth, and president of the Mental Health Association of Southeast Texas.  

Throughout this pandemic, Kim has also served as the teacher, principal, and superintendent of the Phelan Zoom School. With grace and patience, she undertook all of these roles in addition to her full-time jobs and commitments, and none of these obligations end today.

Kim, I am continuously in awe of everything you do for our family.

Ford, Mack, Hank, and Luke, having you here today is a moment I will cherish forever.

Your understanding of Dad missing too many little league games, scout meetings and family dinners shows just how cool you think dad is – am I right?

I love you boys more than life itself but please do not break anything . . . today. 

Ten years ago, it was my esteemed colleague, Representative Senfronia Thompson, or “Miss T,” who stood here in this Chamber, and in the heat of debate, said, “God made me a woman, and thank God that he made YOUR mother a woman, because you men wouldn’t be here.”

It’s as though my mother wrote that herself.

Mom and Dad, thank you for being here and for your continuous support over the years.

You taught me and showed me what it means to love your family, abide by your faith, and serve others. You made me who I am today, and I am so blessed to be your son.

To my six brothers and sisters and their families, your constant support has been essential, but I am obviously mom and dad’s favorite now. Deal with it.

To the spouses, families, and children of my colleagues, the State of Texas owes you a debt of gratitude. Being the spouse of a lawmaker is never easy.

Members, as you well know, part of being a public servant means missing moments that you can’t fully experience through a photo or video — a recital, a baseball game, or dinner around the table. We never get those moments back.

And for that, let’s recognize our significant others who hold our families together while we attend to the work of the people.

To my returning colleagues – welcome back. And to our 16 new colleagues, welcome to your Texas House.

Not long ago, as a newly elected House member, I sat where you sit now, ready to take my first oath of office.

I was filled with excitement and marveled at the enormity of the responsibility ahead of me.  What I have learned is that each member of this illustrious body brings something unique to this Chamber.

27 years ago, I started working here as a young staffer. The privilege of walking into the Capitol to work for the people of Texas humbled me as much then as it does now.

It also serves as a reminder to all those who work in and visit this building. Always be nice to staffers — you never know where they might end up.

From where I stand today – a place where 75 Speakers have come before me – I am equally humbled by the enormous challenges ahead of this body.

Today, our state begins this session at a crossroads.

Exactly one year and one day ago, health officials overseas reported the first fatality from COVID-19.
Since then, the pandemic has consumed nearly aspect of our lives.

Families across Texas have spent the past year gathered around their kitchen tables… discussing the very issues we will wrestle with this session: our children, our loved ones, our health, our economy, and our way of life.

Today, we are on the brink of defeating COVID-19. Treatments have improved the chances of recovery for thousands of Texans.

And our first responders, front line workers, and most vulnerable Texans now have access to life-saving vaccines – developed in part with medical advancements made right here in the great state of Texas.

Now the difficult work of recovery begins, and we have a very short runway in which to do it. Speaking of short runways…if anyone has a good plane crash joke, please submit it to the Speaker’s Office by close of business so we can make sure to get it into the House Journal.

Texans are resilient, flexible, and capable of incredible feats when they are allowed to do their jobs, operate their businesses, and live their lives as they see fit.

In order to unleash our state’s full potential and emerge from this challenge, Texas children and educators must continue to be at the forefront of our legislative agenda this session.

When the House last adjourned, we celebrated landmark property tax and school finance reform.

But now, Texas children are at risk of falling behind because of disruptions caused across the state as a result of this pandemic.

We cannot fail them when they need us most.

To get Texas back to work, we must protect our citizens’ health and safety. We must revitalize our economy, and we must reduce burdensome regulations that impedes our business climate.

We can do all of this while balancing the budget without shifting the financial burden of recovery to our hardworking families. 

This pandemic has magnified the antiquated ways we conduct business and deliver services. We soon transformed nearly every facet of our lives, including our government, to respond to such adversity.

In a matter of days, businesses across this great state stepped up to help where it was needed the most.

Public and higher education shifted curricula online, telemedicine made health care accessible in every corner of the state, and fifty-one years after putting a man on the moon, we figured out how to sell margaritas to-go.

Members, the red tape cut by Governor Abbott was a lifeline to Texas small businesses.

We now enjoy more freedom and economic opportunity. The Texas Legislature should embrace these regulatory changes, learn from them, and eliminate unnecessary, burdensome regulations from our statutes once and for all.

There are many tough decisions before us, and we will approach them with a profound recognition of the hardships Texas families face.

Our challenges lie not just with our economy but who we are as a people and as a nation.

Who could have possibly envisioned the scenarios we would soon be discussing with our families when the Texas House last adjourned?

Our children asked why their school was closed or why they could not visit their grandparents.

We endured one of the most bitter election seasons in recent memory.

This past summer, and as recently as last week, we witnessed the dark side of political and social division as senseless and unacceptable violence swept through our streets, and even through our nation’s Capitol.

During this, our 87th legislative session, we have the opportunity to lead by example and to work on real issues of real significance for the people of Texas.

To do this, I encourage each of you to get to know one another and share your insights. Seek one another’s point of view when you disagree and work together for the betterment of Texas.

I take great comfort that we are not alone when we deal with these challenging issues.

We have a vital part to play, but the future of Texas lies in the hands of our Creator, and it is His people who have entrusted each of us to represent them in this Chamber.

The goodwill that fills this Chamber today will be tested by external parties seeking to divide us for their selfish purposes. But if we ignore the division and instead embody the grit and resolve of our constituents, we will prevail.

Members, history is born out of adversity, and legacies are made by doing what is right.

The Lone Star State has overcome tough challenges before, and with the grace of God and the pioneer spirit that made Texas the beacon of our nation, we can and will do it again.

We must all do our part — not as Republicans or Democrats — but as Texans and Americans.

Let us unite in one common purpose to do what is right for the people of Texas.

May God bless you, and may God bless the great State of Texas.

Thank you.