Monday, January 7, 2013

Joe Straus Shocking History of Liberal Voting and Supporting Democrats in Texas

How can conservative Republicans in Texas go along with a guy like Joe Straus after knowing the liberal history of Joe Straus and how he betrayed Republicans? On Jan 8th, 2013 I hope that the Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives will stand up and select a more conservative Speaker of the House.

Joe Straus

2005 – 2009

Fiscal Policy

·         voted to create a payroll tax in Texas, several industry specific taxes, and a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax in the name of reducing property tax burdens. This would have created an 80 percent net tax increase on 80 percent of Texans (HB 3, RV 119, 79th Legislature)

·         voted against repealing the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Tax on local telephone companies in 2005 (HB 789, RV 153, 79th Legislature)

·         voted to levy a “granny tax” on nursing home residents (HB 3778, RV 1048, 80th Legislature)

·         voted against making tuition deregulation subject for review in 2008 by the Sunset Commission (SB 1227, RV 810, 79th Legislature)

·         voted to expand welfare by changing the basis of eligibility for the Children’s Insurance Program from “gross income” to “net income”, and expanding the eligibility period from 6 months to 12 months (HB 109, RV 266 & RV 299, 80th Legislature)

Social Issues

·         voted in favor of allowing homosexuals and bisexuals to become foster parents (SB 6, RV 328, 79th Legislature)

·         Supported making it easier to get a 3rd trimester abortion. Original language of the bill allowed it only when the mother was at risk of death or the fetus had severe irreversible brain impairment. Straus voted to expand the exemptions to if there was “substantial risk of serious impairment” to the mother or if the fetus had a “severe and irreversible abnormality” (SB 419, RV 672, 79th Legislature)

·         Joe Straus received a $1,000 donation from Planned Parenthood of San Antonio and South Central Texas (Texas Ethics Commission, 08/27/2008)

Support of Gambling

·         Even before Joe Straus became a state representative, it was known his family has gambling interests – specifically horse racing. His father helped build Retama Park in San Antonio. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, 12/17/2010, Straus: My Family connections hurt gambling bills’ odds)

·         In 2005, his freshman session, Straus voted to legalize “pull tab bingo,” an expansion of gambling. (HB 3, RV 670, 79th Legislature)

·         In 2007, Straus voted to expand gambling to Indian tribes in Texas, paving the way for casinos and racetrack slot machines in Texas. (HB 10, RV 939, 80th Legislature)


·         Heritage Alliance

o   2005 – 79%

o   2006 – 51%

·         Texas Eagle Forum

o   2005 – 58

o   2007 – 68

·         Texans for Fiscal Responsibility

o   2007 - 71

·         Texas Right to Life

o   2005 – 50

·         Young Conservatives of Texas

o   2005 – 73

o   2007 – 62

·         NARAL

o   2005 – 45

o   2007 - 100

2009 to 2011

Election as Speaker

Joe Straus was elected as Speaker of the House with the vote of the entire Democratic caucus and 11 moderate Republicans, whom later became known as the “Gang of 11.”[1] A list of them and their career scores on the Young Conservatives of Texas scorecard are listed below:

·         Jim Pitts - 71

·         Brian McCall - 63

·         Byron Cook - 74

·         Charlie Geren - 58

·         Tommy Merritt - 56

·         Delwin Jones - 58

·         Edmund Kuempel - 78

·         Jim Keffer - 74

·         Rob Eissler - 76

·         Burt Solomons – 81

·         Joe Straus - 67

Punishing Conservatives

·         Liberal Democrat Joaquin Castro said at a press conference that he “cant think of a better person to lead us…” than Joe Straus. (Burnt Orange Report YouTube Video, 1/5/2009, Joe Straus Supporters at Press Conference)

·         Reports surfaced that conservatives were told there would be retribution if they failed to support Straus. (Texas Tribune, 11/10/2010, Bryan Hughes Withdraws Support for Straus)

·         With a 76-74 GOP majority in the House in 2009, Straus’ committee chairs averaged a 43 on the Young Conservatives of Texas ratings.

·         Straus headlined a fundraiser for Democrat Patrick Rose. Rose was defeated by Republican Jason Isaac. (Dallas Morning News Trailblazers Blog, 5/7/2010, Straus helps Democrat facing GOP foe this fall)


·         Straus revealed many pro-choice positions in a Texas Monthly Talks with Evan Smith in 2009 (Texas Monthly Talks with Evan Smith, 1/22/09):

o   Straus supports Roe v. Wade and does not believe it should be overturned

o   Straus called the pro-life movement “campaign fodder”

o   On Planned Parenthood: “they do so much good on the family planning and women’s health issues”

o   Evan Smith described Joe Straus as less opposed to abortion and more supportive of gambling – a family business interest – than most of his conservative brethren” in an introduction

·         Joe Straus attended a Planned Parenthood Patron Party in the Fall of 2009, where they thanked him for his “tireless efforts” on behalf of Texas women in the 81st Legislature (Planned Parenthood of San Antonio and South Central Texas Newsletter, Fall 2009)

Conservative Credentials

·         The New York Times called Straus a “centrist” that rose to power during the “Democratic tide that swept President Obama into office” (New York Times, 1/27/2009, Texas Rebellion Gives a Centrist a Lift)

·         The Economist referred to Straus as a “moderate” backed by “centrists” (The Economist, 11/25/2010, The resurgent right, and an unlikely possible ally for moderates)

Fiscal Policy

·         Joe Straus told lobbyist Fred Hill and the Texas Association of Counties – notorious opponents to property tax caps – “You have friend in the Speaker’s Office” (Fred Hill Email, 2/12/2009, Subject: From Fred Hill-Some fun but, serious)

2011 to Present


·         The Texas Observer reported in 2010 that Straus’ family could earn tens of millions of dollars if the legislature voted to allow slot machines in racetracks. “It’s unusual – even in Texas – to encounter a single piece of legislation that has the potential to put millions of dollars in the pocket of a top state leader. (Texas Observer, 4/08/2010, Speaker Straus’ Other Horse Race)

·         Straus appointed a pro-gambling chair of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures committee – Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton. Hamilton voted pro-gambling legislation out of his committee in 2011. (Texas Tribune, 5/6/2011, House Committee Advances Gambling, Without Casinos)

·         Straus later fundraised for Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton while in a primary race against conservative James White. See “Punishing Conservatives.” (TREPAC Fundraiser, 2/29/2012)

Punishing Conservatives

·         With a GOP supermajority in the House in 2011, Straus’ committee chairs averaged a 57 on the Young Conservatives of Texas ratings.

·         Ralph Sheffield said Joe Straus punished GOP members (AgendaWise Video, 11/29/2011)

·         Paul Burka said Straus oversaw a budget meant to help Democrats brow-beat Republicans (Texas Tribune, 6/20/2011, Video: Burka and Blakeslee at TribLive)

·         Those who voted against Straus for speaker in 2011 were given slim pickings for committee assignments:

o   Rodney Anderson – Economic & Small Business Development, Land & Resource Management

o   Leo Berman – Defense & Veteran’s Affairs, Elections

o   Cindy Burkett – Criminal Jurisprudence, Elections, Human Trafficking

o   Erwin Cain – Corrections, Government Efficiency & Reform

o   Wayne Christian – Criminal Jurisprudence, Ways & Means

o   Dan Flynn – Defense & Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Public Safety

o   Bryan Hughes – Agriculture & Livestock, Human Services, Oversight of HHS Eligibility System

o   Jason Isaac – Agriculture & Livestock, Elections

o   Phil King – Elections, Urban Affairs

o   Jim Landtroop – Agriculture & Livestock, Defense & Veterans Affairs

o   Jodie Laubenberg – Environmental Flows (Joint Cmte), Human Services, Public Health

o   Tan Parker – Corrections, Oversight of HHS Eligibility System, Rules & Resolutions (Vice Chair), Urban Affairs

o   Ken Paxton – County Affairs, Urban Affairs

o   Charles Perry – Corrections, Defense & Veterans’ Affairs, Rules & Resolutions

o   David Simpson – Border & Intergovernmental Affairs, Urban Affairs

o   Van Taylor – Defense & Veterans’ Affairs, Human Services

o   James White – Corrections, County Affairs

o   Bill Zedler – Criminal Jurisprudence, Government Efficiency & Reform

·         Of those listed above, none were appointed to the Appropriations, Calendars, Higher Education, Public Education, Licensing and Administrative Procedures, House Administration, Redistricting, State Affairs, or Transportation Committee. Only one was appointed to the Ways & Means Committee.

·         Conservative legislation authored by those who voted against Straus were killed by Straus’ committee chairs:

o   Ending State Unfunded Mandates, HJR 46 by James White

o   Ending In-state tuition for illegal immigrants, HB 1387 by Erwin Cain

o   Appropriations transparency bill, HB 2804 by Cain, et. al.

o   Spending limits for local governments, HB 2952 by Erwin Cain

o   Replacing longevity pay with merit pay for state employees, HB 2954 by Erwin Cain

o   10% reduction on paperwork for state unfunded mandates on public schools, HB 3463 by Erwin Cain

o   Prohibiting hospitals from using tax dollars on abortions, HB 561 by Wayne Christian

o   Prohibiting state or other political subdivisions from forcing you to buy health insurance, HJR 51 by Wayne Christian

o   Ending property taxes below the state levelHJR 53 by Wayne Christian

o   Prohibiting the state from punishing direct payment for healthcare or non-participation, HB 203 by Bryan Hughes

o   Allowing businesses to subtract payments to contractors in addition to employee salary from their taxable margin of the franchise tax, HB 817 by Bryan Hughes and Dwayne Bohac

o   Constitutional amendment requiring 2/3 majority to raise taxes, HJR 37 by Bryan Hughes et. al.

o   Retention of $1 million revenue exemption for franchise tax, HB 476 by Phil King

o   Eliminating school district M&O property taxes, HB 780 by Phil King

o   Requiring a 4/5 vote by House of Representatives to raise taxes, HJR 124 by Jim Landtroop and Jodie Laubenberg

o   Retention of the $1 million exemption of the franchise tax, HB 146 by Jodie Laubenberg

o   Creating the Health Freedom Act, HB 97 by Ken Paxton

o   E-Z computation of the franchise tax, HB 98 by Ken Paxton

o   Spending limits, HB 756 by Ken Paxton

o   Businesses posting a loss wouldn’t pay the franchise tax, HB 932 by Ken Paxton

o   Phases out property taxes for senior citizens by 2021, HB 1104 by Ken Paxton

o   Requires all other taxing units to ratify a tax increase instead of relying petitions to rollback tax rates, HB 3186 by Ken Paxton

o   Requiring franchise tax increases to pass by 2/3 majority, HJR 25 by Ken Paxton

o   NOTE: Ken Paxton was only able to pass 2 bills the entire session, all other bills he authored died in committees

o   Zero-based budgeting, HB 187 by Charles Perry

o   Determination of resident-status of students at public universities, HB 1857 by Charles Perry

o   TSA Groping bill, HB 1937 by David Simpson

o   TSA Body Scanner bill, HB 1938 by David Simpson

o   Taking away public employee pensions of those convicted of felonies, HB 1085 by Van Taylor (also HB 246 by Eric Johnson died in Calendars)

o   Exempting school districts from certain state unfunded mandates, HB 458 by James White & Wayne Christian

o   Temporary tuition limits on students at four-year public universities, HB 459 by James White

o   Abolishing property taxes and limiting rates of state and local sales taxes, HJR 142 by James White

o   Requiring school districts to post their check registers online, HB 1236 by Bill Zedler

o   Requiring public universities to post their check registers online, HB 1237 by Bill Zedler

o   Uncapping total number of charters given to schools by the SBOE, HB 1603 by Bill Zedler,

o   Requiring a 2/3 vote to create an entity with taxing power, HJR 105 by Zedler

Fiscal Policy

·         Joe Straus refuses to sign the Texas Budget Compact (Press Release, 4/16/2012, Statement on Texas Budget Compact)

·         Refuses to sign the Taxpayer Pledge (

·         Straus confidant Jim Keffer opposes property tax reform (, despite the State Republican Party Platform calls to abolish property taxes (page 18). Keffer is the author of a bill to impose a payroll tax in Texas (HB 3, 79th Legislature), and of the now defunct Gross Margins Tax (HB 3, 79th Legislature, 3rd Called).

·         Despite a supermajority of Republicans, the House failed to pass spending limits.

·         Straus only came out in support of eliminating budget gimmicks until after the 2011 session, after the budget was passed and after the Governor released the Texas Budget Compact. (KXAN, 7/9/2012, Speaker urges end to crafty accounting) (Houston Chronicle, 4/16/2012, Perry touts anti-tax ‘Texas Budget Compact’)

·         Pro-Straus businessmen don’t want the “tea party to run the show” (Dallas Morning News Blog, 5/14/2012, A Texas dividing line: business community v. the tea party)

·         Straus told the El Paso Times “we have no choice… you can’t cut your way to prosperity,” almost verbatim to a quote from President Obama’s Weekly Radio Address in 2011 (El Paso Times, 10/28/2011, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus: We have to correct the deficit) (The Hill, 6/25/2011, Obama radio address: ‘Can’t simply cut our way to prosperity’)

·         Straus told the Austin American-Statesman he doesn’t know whether Texas needs more tax revenue (Austin American-Statesman, 11/5/2011, Margins tax, economic development at top of list for Legislature’s business-focused agenda)


·         Joe Straus’ Redistricting plan punished conservatives (, 4/22/2011, Texas Redistricting Plan Punishes Texas Conservatives)

·         Hispanic conservatives were drawn out of GOP-friendly House districts, including Raul Torres of Corpus Christi, Aaron Pena of Edinburg and Jose Aliseda.

·         The first House redistricting map had 7 GOP vs. GOP incumbent pairings (Texas Tribune, 4/13/2011, First House Redistricting Maps Presented)

o    The final maps drew Jim Landtroop and Wayne Christian into approximately 80% new districts

·         Straus lackey Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton moved into conservative James White’s district to run against him (unsuccessfully), despite being originally paired with Allan Ritter. (Texas Observer, 7/15/2011, Is Tea Partier James White Under Assault From His Own Party)

o    Straus previously told The Texas Report “I made it very clear that I would not campaign against incumbents of any party” (The Texas Report, No rest in off-season)


·         Straus called the TSA Bill “nothing more than an ill-advised publicity stunt” (Texas Tribune, 6/24/2011, Updated: Straus Calls TSA Bill “Publicity Stunt”)

·         Kenny Jastrow, the disgraced former CEO of Temple-Inland and board member of Guaranty Bank who presided over “one of the largest financial institution failures in U.S. history,” called Joe Straus a “steady, responsible and principled leader” in a fundraising letter. (Joe Straus fundraising letter, 10/19/2012)

·         Joe Straus’ spokesman Jason Embry told the Texas Tribune that anyone has questions the speaker’s conservative credentials “either has a special interest agenda or is not paying attention” (Texas Tribune, 10/12/2012, East Texas Republican Takes on House Speaker)

·         Five of Straus’ committee chairs suffered defeat in the 2012 primaries. Vicki Truitt, Rob Eissler, and Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton were defeated outright in the primary. Sid Miller and Chuck Hopson were defeated in the runoff.

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