On Tuesday, January 11, 2011, I had the great privilege of being sworn in for my fourth term representing District 121, and being re-elected by my colleagues to serve as the Speaker of the Texas House for the 82nd Texas Legislature. I look forward to again serving the people of Texas as Speaker and will regularly communicate with you during the session about important issues we are addressing in the Legislature. Below are key excerpts from the remarks I gave on the House floor:
“This is a day of great purpose and meaning for each of us, especially to those members who have just taken the oath of office for the first time. You have become part of a great institution where ordinary Texans do extraordinary things by serving causes greater than self. You have become part of a grand tradition of public service, and we all share in the responsibility of upholding it.
“We have differences of philosophy, and Party, but we are all Texans first. With that always in mind, as I promised when I first became Speaker two years ago, I’ll do my best to empower members so that they can do what is right for their constituents and for the people of Texas.
“I believe how we govern matters. I want Texans to look at the House and see leaders who can debate the most contentious issues of the day in a spirit of respect and civility. I want our citizens to know that the rules of the people’s House are not subject to the whims of the chair or the pressure of powerful special interests. This House is where truth rules, and reason prevails.
“The will of the House should guide this House. And the will of the House does not begin in the Speaker’s office. It begins in the homes and office buildings, on the farms and in the cities, in the suburbs and in the high tech centers. It begins with the 25 million people who are proud to call themselves Texans. These are the people who sent us here and if we fail to respect each other, we fail to respect them.
“Every member of this House deserves to be heard and have a voice, to contribute his or her best because every member was sent here by the people of Texas. In the months ahead, we will face tough issues from balancing the budget, to the always difficult job of redistricting. Yet we also face a challenge as great as improving education, securing our border and creating jobs. The challenge to restore people’s confidence in public service.
“We can rebuild trust by the way we conduct ourselves and the way we treat others. We will disagree at times, because we are passionate about the principles we hold dear, but we can choose to make our arguments constructive – rather than destructive. We can rebuild trust by setting high ethical standards, being transparent, and always making government accountable to the people it serves. We can rebuild trust by making Texas state government live within its means. In November’s election, the people of Texas made it clear: they want a more conservative government that is limited and fiscally responsible. We can rebuild trust by conducting ourselves in ways that Washington might learn from.
“We may not all share the same ideology, but we share a common identity: we are all Texans. We have inherited a birthright of independence, a spirit of boldness, and a vision of what is possible. The great promise of this state is inclusive. It belongs to all who work hard, respect the rules, and persevere.
“The men and women who are remembered beyond their years are not those who sow the seeds of discord, but those who plant for a future they may never see. May the laws we write reflect an understanding of the best that Texas can be … not only today, but tomorrow and for decades to come. I am grateful to start this new session with each of you. May God bless the Great State of Texas, and always keep Her brave and strong. Thank you.”
Joe Straus is sworn in as Speaker of the Texas House for the 82nd Texas Legislature