Joe Straus in da HAUS

straus2Joe Straus (R- San Antonio) announced in a press conference this morning that he has enough pledged supporters to win the race for Speaker of the Texas House.

In holding with the national trend towards change and bipartisanship, Straus will replace the great and powerful Tom Craddick with a pledge to bring harmony back to the sharply divided Texas legislature.

Said Democratic strategist Harold Cook in an article in the Dallas Morning News,

“I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like the guy, and in the Legislature, that’s really saying something,” Cook said. “It’s easy to see why people looking for a new tone out of the Texas House are gravitating toward him.”

Other state Dems agreed,

“He is one of the most honest people that I know,” said Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio. “He’s going to be a fair speaker who will rule with an even hand and an open mind.”

We have seen such a bitterly divided legislature in recent years, these reactions sound almost too good to be true.  But it looks as though Straus may represent Texas’ brightest hope for a constructive, pragmatic legislative session.

What’s more, Straus has a positive history on ethics reform, open government, and has shown significant leadership on environmental issues.  As a member of the Regulated Industries Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Efficiency, Straus oversaw the passage of the most important energy efficiency bill since deregulation. Straus’ HB 3693 doubled utilities’ efficiency goals to 20% of load growth by 2010 and directed the Public Utility Commission to study whether increasing the program to 50% of load growth is technically possible.  This report, released by ITRON a month ago, found that Texas could not only meet but exceed that goal.

Straus has also received awards from both the Texas Public Power Association and the  Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club for his work in energy efficiency and contributions to public power.

Public Citizen congratulates Straus on being the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, and looks forward to working with him in the upcoming session.