Speaker of the Texas State House of Representatives Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) released the much-anticipated committee assignments for members of the Texas House for the 86th Legislature. Committee assignments mark the end of the conciliatory period of the early Legislature and signal the tone for the remainder of the session by establishing the pathways or hurdles through which bills move – or do not. In other words, appointing the chairs, vice chairs, and committee members is a daunting task and one that must consider seniority of members, demographics of members’ districts, ideological values of the majority, needed reforms for the people of Texas, and fairness to the House members.
Fortunately, Speaker Bonnen’s experience in the Legislature enabled him to navigate committee assignments aptly—as far as the committees that impact Pro-Life legislation. For a decade, former Speaker Joe Straus stacked committees with House members who would weaken life-saving policies with amendments and anti-Life loopholes. Speaker Bonnen and the Texas House will now have the opportunity to fix this.
The House Committee on State Affairs, which has historically controlled Pro-Life bills, is now chaired by Texas Right to Life endorsee and ally Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont). Representative Phelan has a 100 percent Pro-Life score on Texas Right to Life’s Pro-Life scorecard for both of his terms in office. The new Pro-Life majority of this committee is a significant gain for Pro-Lifers, allowing for new and stronger protections for preborn and vulnerable Texans.
Texas Right to Life also congratulates Pro-Life Champion Representative Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) on her appointment as chair of the Elections Committee. Representative Klick not only boasts a 100 percent Pro-Life score for each of her three previous sessions, but she shepherded the passage of the Texas Dismemberment Abortion Ban through the House in 2017 against hostile leadership. The Elections Committee hears important legislation, such as voter fraud, election timing, ballot integrity, and other issues that impact Pro-Life candidates and majorities, and Chairwoman Klick is well-suited for this assignment.
The Pro-Life movement in Texas will also benefit from unwavering Pro-Life voices on the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, which writes the budget bill for the state for the next two years. The budget includes many Pro-Life funding restrictions and ensures the Alternatives to Abortion program is fully funded to serve expectant and new parents across Texas. Representatives Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant), Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), and Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) will be Pro-Life watchdogs on the budget committee.
Texas Right to Life thanks Speaker Bonnen for building a structure that will advance Pro-Life legislation and save the lives of preborn and vulnerable Texans. With 125 days left in the Regular Session of the 86th Texas Legislature, vulnerable Texans are counting more than ever on the vigilance of Pro-Life Texans to hold these committees accountable. We must see victory on these measures to ensure lives are saved. Let’s get to work.