DALLAS — Just after the legislative session was gaveled in on Jan. 12, members of the Texas House followed their constitutional duty and elected a new speaker.
Article 3, section 9 of the Texas constitution orders that each session must begin with the 150 members of the House, who are elected by Texas voters, electing one of their own as House speaker.
Rep. Dade Phelan, a 45-year-old Republican from Beaumont, received 143 votes.
Phelan became Texas’s 76th House speaker.
He is also the 76th man to hold that position.
Texas has had two female governors.
Miriam “Ma” Ferguson was elected in 1925 and 1933.
Ann Richards served as governor from 1991 until 1995.
But, the state has never had a female Speaker of the House.
The speaker determines which House members sit on which committees, then also determines which bills get discussed in committees.
The speaker also keeps order on the House floor.
You could think of the speaker as football coach deciding who makes the team, who is on the field during a game, and calling all the plays.
Now, give that coach the ability to call a penalty and throw a flag.
If that sounds like a lot of power, it is.
The fate of any proposed House legislation rests in the speaker’s hands.