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Speaker Straus Named Texan of the Year

The Dallas Morning News named House Speaker Joe Straus the 2017 Texan of the Year on Friday, citing his successful efforts to stop legislation that targeted vulnerable Texans and would have caused severe harm to the Texas economy.

Under the leadership of Speaker Straus, the Texas House chose not to pass so-called bathroom legislation that was similar to a much-criticized law passed in North Carolina.

"He had 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," the Morning News writes in an editorial posted online Friday. "He also stood firm on other issues during the session, including school vouchers, property tax caps and local government control, and later refocused attention on how to keep Texas competitive. For his uncommon impact, Joe Straus is the 15th annual Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year."

The editorial continues, "Defeating the bill was one of the most consequential developments of the year. It prevented tourism boycotts and business defections projected to cost Texas billions of dollars annually. It allowed Texas to dodge the taint of state-sanctioned discrimination, which would have drawn national ridicule. Most important, Straus turned the spotlight on the real people whose lives would be affected."

The Morning News editorial, which will appear in the print edition of newspapers on December 31, also describes the Speaker's long history in Republican politics, his focus on issues such as water and education, and his inclusive governing style. "Straus is described as deliberate, thoughtful and respectful, and open to sharing power," the newspaper writes.

Speaker Straus has been Speaker of the Texas House since January 2009. He has led the House in addressing the state's water shortage, in boosting career readiness in public schools and providing additional dollars for transportation without higher taxes. He recently formed a new committee to focus on how to best keep the state's private-sector economy competitive in the future.

You can read the full "Texan of the Year" editorial on the Dallas Morning News website.