Speaker of the House

Speaker standing in the chamber

Welcome to the official Website of the Texas House of Representatives.

It is my genuine hope that you find this site an invaluable resource to help you learn about the legislative process and stay informed of the activities and accomplishments of the Texas House. You can access tools that help you track legislation, provide real time access to debates, and help you get to know your elected officials.

Thank you for visiting this site and for taking an active role in your state government. An open government is essential to ensuring public confidence and accountability.

Respectfully,
Speaker Joe Straus
Joe Straus
Speaker of the House

Capitol Address:

Room CAP 2W.13, Capitol
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
(512) 463-1000
(512) 463-0675 Fax

District Address:

7373 Broadway,
Suite 202-A
San Antonio, TX 78209
(210) 828-4411
(210) 832-9994 Fax

Biography

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 three 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 balance budgets and promote private-sector growth. Under his leadership in the 2013 session, the House cut taxes, reduced excessive testing in public schools, improved career readiness and took important steps to make the state budget more transparent and accountable to taxpayers.

Also 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.


  • Mr. South Texas,2011, from Washington's Birthday Celebration Association and presented in Laredo, Texas for significant and lasting contributions to the growth and development of Laredo and the South Texas region. Speaker Straus is the 61st recipient of the award presented during the 114th year of the celebration.
  • Big Voices for Little Texans Award, 2010, from Texas CASA for support of the work CASA volunteers do to help protect and serve vulnerable children.
  • 2010 Independent Leadership Award presented by the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas in recognition of his independent and trusted leadership.
  • Aspen-Rodel Fellowship Class of 2009, selected by invitation only through the Aspen Institute. The Rodel Fellowship program seeks to enhance the underlying values and principles of our democracy and public service, and identifies America's emerging political leaders with reputations for intellect, thoughtfulness, and a commitment to civil dialogue.
  • 2009 Inaugural Champion for Nursing Education Award given by the Texas Association of Deans and Directors of Professional Nursing Programs for work to address the professional nursing shortage and support increased enrollment and graduation of new Registered Nurses.
  • Tom C. Frost Award, 2009, created by the University of Texas at San Antonio to honor an outstanding citizen who has provided exceptional leadership to important business and community endeavors.
  • In 2008, Texas Monthly selected Speaker Straus as one of the 35 Texans who will shape the future of the state.
  • Defender of the American Dream Award, 2008, from Americans for Prosperity for his record of voting consistently for free enterprise and taxpayer protections. As one of seventeen legislators to receive the "A" rating, Straus authored the bill eliminating the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund tax during the 80th Legislature.
  • Public Official Award, 2007, given by Texas Public Power Association for leadership and contributions to public power.
  • Law & Order Award and Freshman of the Year Award, 2005, by the Texas District and County Attorneys Association for his consistent support for prosecutors and crime victims, and his passage of HB 3265, which eliminated a loophole in Texas law allowing certain convicted defendants a new trial for reasons unrelated to accuracy or fairness of their trials.

last updated on 03/13/2014

Press Conferences

Member Press Conferences

Powers & Duties

The speaker is the presiding officer of the house of representatives. The Texas Constitution requires the house of representatives, each time a new legislature convenes, to choose one of its own members to serve as speaker.

As presiding officer, the speaker maintains order during floor debate, recognizing legislators who wish to speak and ruling on procedural matters. The constitution also requires the speaker to sign all bills and joint resolutions passed by the legislature. As a member of the house of representatives, the speaker may vote on all questions before the house.

The other duties and responsibilities of the speaker are determined by the members of the house in the House Rules of Procedure, which are adopted by a majority vote of the members at the beginning of each regular session of the legislature. The members give the speaker the authority to appoint the membership of each standing committee, subject to rules on seniority, and to designate the chair and vice chair for each committee. Under the rules, the speaker is responsible for referring all proposed legislation to committee, subject to the committee jurisdictions set forth in the rules. The rules also allow the speaker to appoint conference committees, to create select committees, and to direct committees to conduct interim studies when the legislature is not in session.

Speaker's Office Internship Opportunities

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

If you are an undergraduate, graduate, or law student and are interested in applying for an internship with the Office of the Speaker, please submit your resume to:

  • Kari Torres, Director of Special Programs
  • Office of Speaker Joe Straus
  • P.O. Box 2910
  • Austin, TX 78768
  • (512) 463-6486 phone
  • (512) 463-0675 fax
  • Kari.Torres@speaker.state.tx.us

The Texas House of Representatives is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age or disability in the employment or the provision of services. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, if you require reasonable accommodations during the application process, please call (512)463-0865.

Speaker's Office Staff Directory

Speaker's Office……………………………………………………………………(512)463-3000
  • Jesse Ancira, Chief of Staff
  • Patricia Shipton, Strategic Legislative Advisor
  • Frank Battle, House Ethics Advisor
  • Carolyn Scott, Executive Assistant to the Speaker
  • Josie Gamez, Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff and Strategic Legislative Advisor
  • Seth Juergens, Executive Assistant
  • John Romano, Advance/Travel Aide
  • Tara Korstad, Scheduler
Speaker's Press Office……………………………………………………………(512)463-0223
  • Erin Daly, Press Secretary
  • Jason Embry, Press Secretary
Speaker's Office of Administration………………………………………………(512)463-1000
  • Kari Torres, Director of Administration & Special Programs
  • Rocky Gage, Constituent Relations Coordinator
  • Cassie Hager, Staff Assistant
Speaker's Policy Office……………………………………………………………(512)463-1100
  • Andrew Blifford, Budget Director
  • Brady Franks, Senior Budget and Policy Advisor
  • Jonathan Connors, Senior Budget and Policy Advisor
  • Jennifer Deegan, Senior Health & Human Services Policy Advisor to the Speaker
  • Meredyth Fowler, Counsel to the Speaker on General Government
  • Frank Battle, General Counsel
  • Jon Schnautz, Counsel to the Speaker on Insurance
  • Andrea Sheridan, Senior Education Policy Advisor to the Speaker
  • Dan Madru, Senior Business and Regulatory Affairs Advisor to the Speaker
  • Shakira Pumphrey, Corrections and Criminal Jurisprudence Policy Advisor to the Speaker
  • Allison Winney, Senior Policy Advisor
Speaker's District Office……………………………………………………(210)-828-4411
  • Naomi Miller, District Director