-The sparring heats up between Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Dade Phelan as the special session nears its end
-Congressmen request funding for first responders on the border
-Plano parents remove sexually explicit material from libraries
With just a few days left in the third special session in Austin, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is blasting House Speaker Dade Phelan, saying he has become “nothing more than hot air.”
The root of the most recent sparring is border security legislation.
House Bill 4 by State Rep. David Spiller (R–Jacksboro) would create a criminal penalty for improper re-entry from a foreign nation and authorize law enforcement to order them back to Mexico.
However, several concerns over the implementation of the measure were raised, leading State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R–Granbury) to substitute in language to overcome those perceived shortcomings in the Senate’s version.
That bill is slated to be voted on by the Senate on Sunday evening. The House, however, is “standing at ease” indefinitely while they wait for the Senate.
Patrick criticized the House’s version of the legislation on Thursday.
“The Speaker is desperate to improve his border credentials with conservatives and sent the House version of HB4 over to the Senate. The bill’s author claimed it’s the toughest border bill ever, but it is simply a Texas-sized catch-and-release bill.’
“The House version of HB4 does not require proper identification of suspects, fingerprints, or a background check and allows illegal border crossers to return whenever they want, time and time again. Even if returned to the border, this policy would allow unidentified hardened criminals and terrorists to slip through the cracks and cross the border over and over again,.”
Phelan fired back in a statement, saying, “Dan Patrick’s baseless critique of House Bill 4 is a transparent attempt to deflect from his chamber’s own impotent response to the growing crisis at our border a crisis demanding decisive action, not the ineffective strategies being peddled by the Senate.
That’s when Patrick launched his sharpest critique of Phelan yet.
“Mr. Speaker, you have become nothing more than hot air. You can peddle your nonsense all day but the truth is your version of HB4 does not require fingerprints or a background check of anyone detained. That means you don’t know who you are sending back to the port of entry,” wrote Patrick.
He then reiterated his support for the Senate’s approach before turning his aim to Phelan once again.
“The Senate has been the leader on border security legislation long before you arrived in the House. I don’t pay attention to you anymore and neither does anyone else. You’ve become the teacher character from the “Peanuts” series. When you talk, all we hear is, “Wah wah woh wah wah.” You’ve become a Speaker who can impeach someone faster than it takes to smoke a brisket, but you can’t pass a big teacher pay raise bill or a school choice bill in 10 months. No one takes you seriously anymore.”
Gov. Greg Abbott, meanwhile, has been silent as the two chambers have feuded on his special session issues, such as border security and school choice. It remains to be seen whether Abbott will call a fourth special session if his issues do not get addressed.
As border communities continue to struggle amid the ongoing crisis of illegal crossings, two congressmen have sent a letter asking the U.S. House Appropriations Committee to consider additional funding for first responders.
U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) sent a letter Tuesday to House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and ranking member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). The letter requests that any “supplemental funding package include funding for critical programs to aid first responders in communities impacted by immigration.”
The congressmen noted the rapid uptick in illegal crossings along the southwest border, sharing the historic number of encounters.
Last month, Texas Scorecard reported that in September alone the total of encounters was 269,735—higher than any month before. As September closed out the 2023 federal fiscal year, the number of encounters reached a record-breaking 2,475,669—the highest number on record, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Following months of public pressure, Plano Independent School District officials say they will remove dozens of sexually explicit books from campus libraries—a big win for local parents, students, and conservative activists.
In an email Wednesday, the district finally responded to parents’ request that 67 titles containing graphic sex and other inappropriate content be reconsidered for removal.
Plano ISD’s Director of Learning Media Services Julie Briggs said that the district had applied “updated procedures” to “all previously challenged titles that were not initially removed from our collections.”
According to the grassroots group Citizens Defending Freedom, which helped Plano families raise awareness about the sexual content of books available to students, 64 of the 67 explicit titles in question have been identified for removal.
Parents are happy with the results but say they should not have needed to spend months publicly pressuring Plano ISD officials to do their job.