Joe Straus | Texas Speaker of the House
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 four legislative sessions. 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.
He has repeatedly led the Texas House to pass balanced budgets and promote private-sector growth. Under his leadership in the 2015 legislative session, the House provided $4 billion in tax relief while passing a balanced budget that prioritized education, transportation, public safety and mental health care.
Speaker Straus and his House colleagues have also led successful efforts to reduce excessive testing in public schools and to make the state budget more transparent and accountable to taxpayers.
During the 2013 legislative session, Speaker Straus led the effort to address the state’s increasingly severe water shortage. Recognizing the importance of a reliable water supply to economic growth, Speaker Straus built support for a plan to secure a long-term water supply without raising taxes. Later that year, he led the public campaign to dedicate funding for water in the Texas Constitution. In November 2013, Texas voters approved that plan by a nearly 3-to-1 margin, providing a significant step forward for the Texas economy.
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.