State Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, who represents Texas House District 130, announced March 21 he will seek the position of Texas House speaker for the 89th legislative session in a press conference in Houston.

“The dysfunction in the Texas House during 2023 highlights a need for change at the Capitol. Two weeks ago, Republican voters across Texas sent a strong and unmistakable signal that Texas needs a new paradigm,” Oliverson said at a press conference. “For these reasons, I am announcing my candidacy for speaker of the Texas House today for the 89th session.”

Oliverson seeks to replace the current speaker, state Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont. Phelan is headed to the May 28 runoff election to maintain his seat for Texas House District 21 and has served as speaker since 2021.

The backstory

Oliverson cited feedback he received from voters voicing their unhappiness with the Republican-led House failing to achieve its legislative agenda, according to a news release following the announcement.

“I’ve been listening to voters across the state as well as the grumblings of my colleagues, and I understand the need for a new paradigm in the Texas House,” Oliverson said. “The people elect us to come to Austin to address the issues that matter to their community. They do not send us here to attend a frat party. They expect us to work.”

Oliverson said he sees the first 60 days of a new session as critical and decried the practice of delaying action on potential bills. He also said he disagrees with allowing House Democrats to hold committee chair positions, saying Republicans should hold them all as members of the majority party, according to the release.

“The House should be organized quickly and efficiently, and get on about the people’s business. Committee chairs should be appointed, organizational meetings held, and the speaker should refer bills and committees should be holding hearings soon after,” he said.

Remember this?

Oliverson also noted critical actions Phelan missed during the 88th legislative session in 2023, including the move to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton and the failure to pass the school voucher bill.

“To anticipate questions folks are sure to have, I’ll address the two elephants in the room. First, the impeachment vote—I think the secretive way in which this was handled, surprising members in the waning days of a regular session and giving them less than 72 hours to decide, was a colossal failure of leadership,” he said. “Second, the school choice vote—I think leadership missed the opportunity to protect members by allowing that bill to fail.”

The effort to create education savings accounts, or a voucher-like program, was one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s top priorities, along with lawmakers like Oliverson. However, little progress was made on the plan last year due to bipartisan opposition in the House.

Did you know?

Oliverson was first elected to Texas House District 130 in 2016, and he has served the Cypress, Tomball, Waller and Hockley areas in that capacity for four legislative sessions. His Republican colleagues named him “Freshman of the Year” in the 85th session.

He ran unopposed in the Republican primary this March and will face Democratic candidate Brett Robinson in the general election this November.

Click here to learn more about bills Oliverson authored last year that were successfully signed into law.