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Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan said the state legislature will not pass meaningful gun safety legislation in its next session, but signaled an openness to creating limited exceptions to the state abortion ban.
Families of Uvalde school shooting victims, along with House and Senate Democrats, have repeatedly called for a special session to raise the minimum age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21 years old.
“We in the House obviously want to be respectful and do everything we can to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Phelan told the 2022 Texas Tribune Festival on Friday. “I think there’s a reason the governor hasn’t called a special session, and quite frankly, it’s because the votes aren’t there. The votes are not there to change this particular section of the law.
Phelan, a Republican who represents Beaumont in southeast Texas, said he would vote against raising the minimum age.
Gov. Greg Abbott previously said raising the minimum age to purchase assault weapons is “unconstitutional,” pointing to a federal judge’s ruling that struck down a Texas law prohibiting adults under 21 from years of carrying handguns. US Senator Rick Scott, the former GOP Governor of Florida, raised the legal purchase age in his state after the Parkland school shooting.
In an in-depth discussion with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith, Phelan said the House could revise the law that criminalizes abortion. Phelan said he heard House members express concern that the law makes no exception for rape or incest.
Doctors also told Phelan that the ban has complicated medical care for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages, he said. Treatments for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies are still legal under the state’s abortion ban, but the confusion has led some providers to delay or deny patient care in Texas. Phelan said it was unclear how the House would vote on adding exceptions to the abortion ban.
Phelan supports lowering taxes next session, but he said Texas has been hit by inflation and the cost of doing business in the state will rise. He opposes school vouchers, which allow parents to use public money for private education.
During Friday’s panel, the Speaker of the House reflected on the last legislative session. Phelan said passing a balanced budget that prioritized education was one of his biggest wins.
“We were able to pass a balanced budget with low population growth, low inflation and, quite frankly, fully committing to our promise in 2019 to increase education – public education and higher education,” he said. he declared.
The Speaker of the House affirmed his support for a new law passed under his leadership targeting transgender student-athletes, saying the state should intervene when it comes to LGBTQ children.
“What two consenting adults do in their private affairs is none of my business. … Now you’re talking about children. That’s another story,” Phelan said Friday. “You haven’t seen any bills, I don’t think, at any point in the last session dealing with adults and what they do in their private lives.”
The Texas Tribune Festival is here! From September 22-24 in downtown Austin, this year’s TribFest features more than 25 virtual conversations with guests like Eric Adams, Pete Souza, Jason Kander and many more. After they air for ticket holders, anyone can watch these events at Tribune’s Festival news page. Keep up to date with the latest news and free sessions from TribFest.