The 87th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature convened at noon today (Tuesday). Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) was the only member nominated for Speaker, and he was elected by a 143-2 vote. Newly elected Reps. Jeff Cason (R-Bedford) and Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) were the nay votes. Cason succeeded former Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) with his endorsement, and Slaton defeated former Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) in the 2020 Republican runoff.

In a Facebook post, Slaton said he could not “vote in favor of a speaker who has refused to articulate to Republicans whether or not he believes we should have a true conservative session.” That is a reference to a December 18 letter Slaton, Cason and Reps. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) and Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) sent to Phelan asking his “intentions regarding giving Democrats power over our Republican priorities prior to your election” as Speaker. All four are clients of political consultant Luke Macias.

The House is expected to adopt its rules for the session on Thursday and then go into recess until January 26.

On the other side of the Capitol, an emotional Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) was named President Pro Tempore by his colleagues. The Senate is expected to vote on its rules tomorrow (Wednesday) and recess until around the 26th.

Very little of substance occurs during the first several weeks of the session. The Texas Constitution limits the actions the Legislature may take during its first 60 days to emergency items and ordinary resolutions (e.g.,congratulating a high school football team for winning a championship).

HD68 special: Fewer than 250 people were reported to have voted during the first day of the early voting period, although six counties either did not report or no one voted there. The first day tallies are often incomplete, so this figure may rise. Cooke (107 voters), Jack (50 voters) and Montague (34 voters) Cos. represented 79% of first-day voters, as it stands today (Tuesday).

The National Rifle Association gave its “AQ” rating to all four Republicans in the race. This is equivalent to an “A” grade given to an incumbent but is based off a candidate’s answers to a questionnaire.

PRES: President Trump made a brief stop outside the city of Alamo to tout his border wall construction initiative and sign a plaque affixed to a stretch of the barrier. It does not appear that any Texas federal or state officials were present to meet him. The visit came as the House poised to impeach him for a second time. “The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country,” he said. Trump took no responsibility for last week’s sacking of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. “Lots of people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.”

Local Elections: Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the first day for candidates to file for a spot on the May 1 general election ballot. Our Municipal Elections page lists which offices are up for regularly scheduled elections in the state’s 100 most populous cities.

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