Illegal Voting, Fairness in Girl’s Sports, Honoring Jay Flanagin and more

March 18, 2023

The week saw some compelling testimony, movement on election integrity, as well as the chance to honor the life of a longtime Parker County citizen we greatly miss.

 Ensuring Tough Penalties on Illegal Voting

This week I voted to restore the penalty for illegal voting from a misdemeanor back to a second degree felony. Texans must have confidence in the integrity of our elections.

This week, the Texas Senate passed SB 2, which returns the penalty for illegal voting from a misdemeanor back to a second degree felony, which is what it had been for the previous 50 years before a change in the last legislative session. In 2021, SB 1 was passed to uphold the integrity of elections in Texas by creating uniform statewide voting hours, access for those voters who need assistance, prohibit drive-thru voting, and enhances transparency in elections. Late in the session before the bill was passed, an amendment was made to the bill which was not debated or vetted through the normal legislative process. This bill makes clear: if someone knows they are a non-citizen and still vote, or if someone knows they are a felon and votes, the penalty for such action is restored to a felony. 

I have worked for years to ensure election integrity, including authoring the legislation implementing the Texas Voter ID law. Last session, I authored and passed a bill prohibiting local county election offices from accepting private donations, such as those from Mark Zuckerburg, to prevent the danger of undue influence and fraud. 

Ensuring Fairness:  Prohibiting Men from Participating in Women’s College Sports

On Monday, the Senate State Affairs Committee debated Senate Bill 15, a bill I have co-authored which would require athletes in college sports to compete under their biological gender. This is a matter of fairness, safety, and frankly common sense. With obvious physiological differences that advantage biological men, it’s simply unfair for college women to be forced to compete against them.

The State Affairs Committee heard powerful testimony from Riley Gaines, a former collegiate swimmer who was a 12-time NCAA All-American and 5-time SEC Champion. On March 14, 2022, she was forced to compete against transgender athlete Lia Thomas for a national title. Ranked 462 as a male, Lia Thomas won 1st place competing as a female. Even though Riley and Lia tied with the exact same time, the NCAA awarded the trophy to Lia Thomas.

Ms. Gaines stated Monday, “Title IX was enacted to end discrimination on the basis of sex within colleges and universities. But by allowing Thomas to displace female athletes in the pool and on the podium, the NCAA intentionally and explicitly discriminated on the basis of sex.”

Please listen to testimony, in which she details the retaliation she experienced for speaking out against this injustice. I know it will deeply move you as it did me. The woke agenda is broad, destructive and offensive. Please go to 1:40:00 at the following link:

Opposing “Court Packing” of the U.S. Supreme Court

In 2021, some Congressional Democrats – backed by liberal activists unhappy with conservative decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court – introduced legislation to expand the nation’s highest court from nine to 13 justices, joining progressive activists pushing to transform the court.

The U.S. Supreme Court has been composed of nine justices since 1869, and back door attempts to transform the court are dangerous and unwise. That’s why this week I voted for SCR 17, known as the “Keep Nine” Resolution. This action urges Congress to propose and submit to the states for ratification the “Keep Nine” amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, SCR 17 reads, in part:

RESOLVED, That the 88th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby respectfully urge the Congress of the United States to propose and submit to the states for ratification the “Keep Nine” amendment to the United States Constitution, stating that “The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine justices.”

Honoring the Life of Jay Flanagin

It was a special day for Judy Flanagin and other members of her family as the Texas Senate honored the memory of Jay Flanagin

Since my earliest days serving in the Legislature, my staff member Judy Flanagin has served our community ably and faithfully, many of those years as my District Director. Her husband Jay always supported her in this role, and both Judy and Jay have always been part of our extended family. 

Sadly, Jay passed away on Thanksgiving Day, November 24th, 2022. On Tuesday, it was a privilege to honor Jay with a memorial resolution unanimously passed by the Texas Senate.  Judy and other members of her family were in attendance. Many of my friends and constituents in Parker County knew Jay and his selfless life of service. We shared fishing trips together and he was there to share in so many family milestones with Terry and me. Jay Flanagin is missed but will never be forgotten. He and Judy would have celebrated their 45th anniversary yesterday.

If you would like to watch the proceedings honoring Jay, please click the video:


Native born Texan and actor Dennis Quaid was in the Texas Senate on the day we passed the memorial resolution honoring Jay Flanagin.

Tuesday is World Down Syndrome

You may know that Terry and I are the proud grandparents of 17, six boys and 10 girls. Two of our granddaughters are adopted and both have Down syndrome. Their names, Joy and Sunshine (Sunny), are indicative of what they bring to our family and every life they touch. 

Joy and Sunny were adopted out of dismal and very life threatening circumstances in China. We are all so very proud of their parents, Jacob and Sarah Holt, and of all Joy and Sunny’s siblings. Their love and care has brought Joy and Sunny so very far. They are an example to us all of Christ’s love for all facing disabilities.   

World Down Syndrome Day is on March 21. That date, the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.

Terry and I hope you’ll join us in wearing your craziest set of socks, either mismatched or your most bright, colorful designs. When anyone asks you about your socks you can tell them, “I’m wearing them to raise awareness of Down syndrome.”  

Phil with granddaughters Joy (above) and Sunny (below)

One day last week, I had the opportunity to serve as the presiding officer of the Texas Senate.