TEXAS — Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan said he wants a more piecemeal approach to the elections bill during a special session.
"I've never been a big fan of big omnibus bills to begin with," he said in an interview on Capital Tonight. "I would prefer, this is my personal opinion, in the next special session, that maybe those ideas are broken up into single shot bills and people can have a little more idea what's in the legislation."
Phelan's comments came after House Democrats walked out of the chamber late Sunday night blocking passage of Senate Bill 7, a Republican priority elections bill that would overhaul voting in Texas.
Gov. Greg Abbott recently vowed to veto a section of the state budget that funds the Legislature in response to the walkout. Phelan said Tuesday he has concerns with how that would affect staff and legislative agencies.
"I understand his frustration," he said. "The one that does concern me, now that I've had time to think about it, is my staff. We have to consider that. They're not the ones who are responsible for the frustration."
Phelan said under the State Constitution, lawmakers would still get paid their $600 a month salary even if Abbott carried out the veto.
Gov. Abbott has said he'll call lawmakers back for a special session to address the elections bill, among other items. Lawmakers were already expected to be back in the fall to redraw political maps. Abbott has not specified if he'll add an additional special session or put it all on the fall agenda.
When asked whether there were additional items he'd like to see added, Phelan pointed to criminal justice and health care reforms and going further on overhauling the state's electrical grid following February's deadly winter storm.
"Responding to [Winter Storm] Uri may take more than the time we had — the 40, 50 days we had to get legislation passed," he said. “We made great strides, great progress in a very short period of time. But there's always time to do more and I think when we get down to the securitization, that's one thing both chambers couldn't agree on and also a very complex issue. But we want to make sure the ratepayers and the taxpayers don't foot the bill."
Phelan would not give himself a grade for his first term as speaker, but said he's planning to run for a second term.
"I can just tell you that I've received a lot of support from my colleagues both yesterday and since then to remain as speaker and return next session," Phelan said. "I felt like we delivered in a really responsible way."
Click the video link above to watch our full conversation with Speaker Phelan.