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Republican Party of Texas chair Allen West said the party “will not support, nor accept” the Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) as House Speaker. “It is utterly absurd and demonstrably idiotic that any Republican would join with Democrats to lead our Republican-majority Texas State House,” West said in a statement. “Texas does not need a Republican political traitor.”

Last week, Phelan announced that he had more than enough pledges, including 53 of the 83 Republican members and members-elect, to become Speaker, and Rep. Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria), the lone remaining official Republican candidate for Speaker, withdrew.

Last month, West was a featured speaker at a “Free Texas” protest outside the governor’s mansion seeking to compel Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who was not in Austin at the time, to lift all coronavirus restrictions. At that event, West said Abbott’s “cure is worse than the disease.”

The former one-term Florida congressman ousted chair James Dickey at this summer’s state convention.

Pre-filing Begins: Today (Monday) was the first day members and members-elect of the upcoming Legislature could begin filing bills and resolutions, and they filed around 500 of them. Around 40 of them propose changes to the Election Code. Several bills would either expand eligibility for absentee voting or place new limitations on it, such as prohibiting the mailing of unsolicited absentee ballot applications.

Legislation was filed to establish same-day voter registration, implement automatic registration with issuance or change to a driver’s license, restore straight-party voting, modify (or eliminate) Voter ID requirements, cancel registrations of non-citizens and authorize electronic voter registration.

The 87th Legislature convenes January 12.

Freedom Caucus: The House Freedom Caucus announced Rep.-elect Cody Vasut (R-Angleton) has joined it. Following departures and retirements, the caucus’s membership would stand at eight: Reps. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park), Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville), Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), Matt Shaheen (R-Plano), Valoree Swanson (R-Spring), Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) and Vasut.

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