Leading up to the 88th Legislative Session, Republican State Reps. Tony Tinderholt (Arlington) and Bryan Slaton (Royce City) called on their fellow conservative lawmakers to listen to their constituents and pass legislation in line with Republican Party of Texas priorities.

On January 10, the first day of the legislative session, Tinderholt and Slaton gave speeches on the House floor in support of Tinderholt for speaker.

Last year, Tinderholt announced a challenge to incumbent House Speaker Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont), citing Phelan’s lack of action on Republican priority issues. As speaker, Phelan exercises enormous influence on the legislation considered in the House by setting its agenda, organizing committees, and selecting committee chairs.

Slaton soon endorsed Tinderholt, bringing attention to Phelan’s support of giving committee chairmanships to Democrats, which allowed them to kill Republican legislation by simply not including conservative measures in the agenda.

In his speech, Slaton said he believes Phelan’s cooperation with Democrats during the last session hurt Republican priorities.

“Our speaker courted the Democrats to get his position, gave them chairmanships, protected them from being punished when they fled to D.C. … and today, every single one of our Democrat colleagues will be voting for his leadership in this chamber,” said Slaton. “Some will claim this is good bipartisanship. But it’s actually just a powerful consolation prize for losing elections.”

Slaton then called on Republican lawmakers to listen to their constituents and pass legislation conservative voters support.

“At some point, we need to realize we are settling for just enough wins to get re-elected,” said Slaton. “We cannot afford to operate that way anymore. It is time for Republicans to take the lead to actually implement the conservative policies that people are demanding. We have a lot to do, and the eight GOP legislative priorities are only the bare minimum that we have to accomplish this session.”

Tinderholt agreed, and promised to champion conservative causes and upset the status quo if elected to the speakership.

“Ask yourself, ’What do Texans need and deserve?’ I’ve realized they need me to fight to change this broken system. To give essential policies a chance to pass. What we have been doing has not been working. The change needed is uncomfortable. But the cost of doing what is right pales in comparison to the cost of this House repeating lost opportunities session after session.”

He closed by accusing those who oppose change of clinging to power.

The status quo remains because people want their power. They want their committee chairmanships. They want their gavel. They want the ability to control the power and the purse strings, but they don’t want to look into the mirror to fundamentally change a broken town. A broken House, a broken body, and a broken federal government.

House members elected Phelan as speaker in a 145-3 vote.

Tinderholt, Slaton, and State Rep. Nate Schatzline (R–Fort Worth) voted for Tinderholt.

Citizens can use Texas Scorecard’s Elected Officials Directory to contact their lawmakers.

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.