The Texas House of Representatives unanimously reelected House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) to serve a record-tying fifth term as Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives in Austin on Tuesday.
The first order of business for the 150 Texas Legislators, after being sworn in, was to vote for who would chair the leadership of the House. For the first time, the Speaker ran unchallenged for reelection.
Speaker Straus went right to his legislative priorities in his acceptance speech before the 150 newly sworn-in legislators. One of those, addressing the beleaguered Texas Health and Human Services’ Child Protective Service agency.
The Austin American-Statesman reported Straus saying, “Home ought to be a place of love and support, not abuse and violence. We’ve begun improving Child Protective Services, but our work is far from finished. We can all agree that protecting children is one of the state’s most basic and important responsibilities.”
Straus’s fifth term ties a record held by two previous speakers. Former Speakers Pete Laney and Gib Lewis also held the gavel for five terms each, the Texas Tribune reported.
In a seconding speech for Speaker Straus, Rep. Mark Keough (R-The Woodlands), the conservative representative, spoke about the Speaker’s strength and statesmanship, “I watched as he was aggressively argued against by, in many cases, great men much younger than him and his age, and the scriptures rang out to me again — Do not rebuke an older man. Speaker Straus stood there and he took it and he acted with a statesmanship and a concern for the whole House that I was blown away.”
Straus handily fended off a Tea Party challenge to his legislative seat in the 2016 Republican Primary. Now he has been reelected without opposition in a unanimous vote of support from the body he, once again, is set to lead.
The reelected Speaker now sits down to work on organizing the 85th Texas Legislature. The first month of the session is dedicated to the appointment of committee chairs and filing of bills.
Creating a balanced budget is one of the primary responsibilities for the legislature. This year, with anticipated lower oil revenue to the state and lower sales tax receipts, the challenge will be to provide ways to meet increasing needs for education, infrastructure, protecting abused children, and securing the border while lowering taxes and keeping the budget balanced.
“Compromise has become a dirty word in politics but in reality it is how we find common ground and achieve the common good,” Straus told the legislators. “And it is a good word in this House.”