On Thursday, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan announced the creation of a new Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety.

The stated impetus for the committee is to continue the House’s focus on reform of the Texas criminal justice system through smarter policing and sentencing, to provide greater access to healthcare for new mothers and Texas children, and to minimize the negative educational and emotional effects of COVID-19 on Texas students.

The committee is composed of Republican State Rep. J.M. Lozano (Kingsville) as chairman and freshman Democrat State Rep. Ann Johnson (Houston) as vice chairman. State Reps. Steve Allison (R–San Antonio), David Cook (R–Mansfield), Harold Dutton Jr. (D–Houston), James Frank (R–Wichita Falls), Stephanie Klick (R–Ft. Worth), Jeff Leach (R–Allen), Eddie Morales (D–Eagle Pass), Victoria Neave (D–Dallas), and Toni Rose (D–Dallas) are among the committee members.

With the exception of Morales, all of the Democrat lawmakers serving on the committee were also participants in the recent “quorum breaks,” when they fled the Texas Capitol to paralyze the House of Representatives and the entire Texas Legislature for upwards of 37 days. House Republican leadership did not penalize any lawmakers who participated.

In the announcement on creating the new committee, Phelan said:

We must close the gap on learning loss, provide adequate mental health services, and prevent Texas kids from entering the criminal justice system. The formation of this select committee continues our chamber’s commitment to addressing the lingering fallout of the pandemic on health and well-being of Texas children, and I thank the members of this distinguished select committee for theory service to our state on these important issues.

These issues were not included on Gov. Greg Abbott’s agenda for the third called special legislative session, which is set to begin Monday, September 20. Abbott can add to his agenda at any time.

Jeramy Kitchen

Jeramy Kitchen serves as the Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard as well as host of 'This Week in Texas', a show previewing the week ahead in Texas politics. After managing campaigns for conservative legislators across the state, serving as Chief of Staff for multiple conservative state legislators, and serving as Legislative Director for the largest public policy think tank in Texas, Jeramy moved outside of the Austin bubble to focus on bringing transparency to the legislative process.

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