Speaker Bio – Representative Joe Straus
Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in a special election in February 2005, Joe Straus represents District 121, which includes the communities of Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, Terrell Hills, Windcrest, and northeast San Antonio. During the most recent legislative session, he was appointed to the Committee on Economic Development, where he serves as vice-chairman, the Committee on Regulated Industries, and the Local and Consent Calendars Committee. As a member of the Regulated Industries Committee, Representative Straus chaired the Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Efficiency, which developed a major bill that puts Texas on the cutting edge of energy efficiency. Representative Straus has also been appointed to the Select Committee on Electric Generation Capacity and Environmental Effects, which will study the state’s energy demand and expected growth for the next 50 years in order to develop long-term energy plans for Texas.
In the summer of 2007, Representative Straus was presented the Texas Public Power Association’s Public Official Award for leadership and contributions to public power. He was also given the Legislative Service Award by the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club for his work in the area of energy efficiency. Additionally, Representative Straus received the Defender of the American Dream Award in 2008 from Americans for Prosperity for his record of commitment for protecting taxpayers.
As an active Republican, Representative Straus has previously served on the Management Committee of the Bexar County Republican Party, as a precinct chairman, and on numerous campaign committees for federal, state, and local candidates. He served in the administration of President George H. W. Bush from 1989 through 1991 as Deputy Director of Business Liaison at the U.S. Department of Commerce and also in the Reagan administration as Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of Customs. In 1986, he was U.S. Representative Lamar Smith’s campaign manager in Smith’s first race for Congress. In the Texas House, Representative Straus serves as a member of the House Republican Caucus Policy Committee.
Representative Straus was selected by the Speaker of the House to attend the National Conference of State Legislatures’ 2006 Leadership Institute for legislators who show outstanding leadership promise and the ability to effect change. In 2008, Texas Monthly selected Representative Straus as one of the 35 Texans who will shape the future of the state.
Representative Straus is a principal in the insurance and executive benefits firm of Watson, Mazur, Bennett & Straus, L.L.C. He is affiliated with National Financial Partners, a leading financial services company in the insurance, investments, and benefits industry.
A lifelong San Antonian, Straus currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Cancer Therapy and Research Center as well as on the Texas Cord Blood Bank. Previously Mr. Straus served on the Board of Directors of the San Antonio Zoological Society, the Texas Nature Conservancy, the Southwest School of Art and Craft, and the Winston School.
Representative Straus is a graduate of Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in Political Science. He is an avid sportsman with a lifelong passion for Thoroughbred horseracing and breeding. He is married to Julie Brink Straus. They have two daughters, Sara and Robyn.