The Honorable Joe Straus

The Honorable Joe Straus has been Speaker of the Texas House since January 2009, elected to that post by his colleagues at the start of the last five legislative sessions. He was most recently re-elected Speaker with a vote of 150-0 in January 2017. As Speaker, Joe Straus has set a tone of respectful leadership, empowering the members of the Texas House to do what is right for their constituents and for the people of Texas.

Speaker Straus believes in a limited, efficient government that is accountable to taxpayers. He wants to expand opportunity for all Texans by promoting economic development, improving education, increasing budget transparency, and securing the resources and infrastructure needed for private-sector growth. He regularly encourages his colleagues to work together, across partisan and geographic divides, to provide thoughtful solutions to the most serious challenges facing the state.

In addition to serving as Speaker, he represents Texas House District 121, which includes the Bexar County communities of Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, Terrell Hills, and northeast San Antonio. Speaker Straus was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in a special election in February 2005.

In December 2017, the Dallas Morning News named Speaker Straus the “Texan of the Year,” an honor whose past recipients include President George W. Bush, Admiral Bill McRaven and the heroes of Fort Hood. The Morning News praised Speaker Straus’ focus on economic competitiveness and the stand he took against “bathroom bill” policies that would have caused significant harm to the Texas economy. The newspaper wrote that Speaker Straus “protected Texas from some of its worst political impulses, prevented serious damage to the economy, and brought together enough bipartisans to check the far-right dominance in the Republican Party. . .For his uncommon impact, Joe Straus is the 15th Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year.”

In the 2017 legislative session, Speaker Straus led the House in making significant reforms to the state’s mental health system. Those reforms provided additional resources for early intervention, jail-diversion programs, and effective local initiatives. The House also overhauled the state’s Child Protective Services system and provided funding for more than 1,000 new caseworkers in order to more quickly respond to children in need. Speaker Straus and the members of the House also took the lead in successfully closing a $1 billion shortfall in TRS-Care, which is the health insurance program for retired Texas educators.

Speaker Straus has also led the push for school finance reforms that put more dollars into the classroom, reduce the state’s dependence on high property taxes, and keep more local dollars in local schools. Under his leadership, the House repeatedly supported significant school-finance reform legislation. He has also led the successful effort to reduce excessive standardized testing, strengthen career readiness in public schools, and elevate more Texas universities to Tier One status.

Speaker Straus has also put a focus on keeping the Texas private-sector economy competitive. In late 2017, he created the House Committee on Economic Competitiveness in order to assess the steps that Texas needs to take to maintain its economic strength in the future. He led the successful push in 2013 to make a significant investment in addressing the state’s water shortage, and under his leadership in 2015; the House invested billions of new dollars in transportation.

The House has passed balanced and responsible budgets in each of the five legislative sessions that Speaker Straus has been presiding officer. The House has also cut billions of dollars in taxes under Speaker Straus’ leadership.

Thanks to his leadership on water and other critical issues, Texas Monthly named Speaker Straus one of the state's "Ten Best Legislators" in 2013. Calling him "one of the more genteel and thoughtful Speakers in recent memory," the magazine also wrote, "Straus's greatest assets are his intelligence and his temperament. Time after time, when a crisis arose, he remained unflappable."

In February 2014, the San Antonio Express-News wrote in an editorial, "Under Straus's leadership, the House has produced conservative budgets and a broad conservative agenda. Straus has done an admirable job managing the House since 2009, and he provides crucial leadership on important San Antonio issues. His constituents benefit significantly by having the Speaker represent their district."

As a lifelong Republican, Speaker Straus has served on numerous campaign committees for federal, state, and local candidates, as a precinct chairman, and on the Management Committee of the Bexar County Republican Party. In 1986, he was U.S. Representative Lamar Smith's campaign manager in Smith's first race for Congress. Early in his career, he worked in public service in the administrations of President Ronald Reagan and President George H. W. Bush.

Speaker Straus is a San Antonio native and a fifth-generation Texan. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, he has an insurance, investments, and executive benefits practice. He and his wife Julie have two daughters.