Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) is the new speaker of the Texas House. The 150-member body selected him 147-0 shortly after being sworn in for the 2019 legislative session Tuesday.
Bonnen told lawmakers the agenda of the House is up to the House.
"My job is simple," he said. "I'll bring passionate people to the table, then keep you in the room until we find a solution."
During the nomination process, a bipartisan list of House members spoke of their hopes and expectations from a Bonnen speakership. Most focused on how they believe he will work to bring together a body that has become bitterly partisan in recent years.
Bonnen will announce his top bills for the session in the coming days, but he’s already made it clear public school finance and property taxes are his top priorities for the legislative session.
"These are complicated issues that can no longer wait," he said Tuesday, "pressing issues that deserve meaningful results."
He also listed several issues related to Texas children – early childhood education, improving the Child Protective Services system, addressing mental health and school safety – as priorities.
"This House is the possession of all Texans and it is our privilege to serve all of them with a passion, pride and a willingness to put that common good above all else," he said.
Bonnen replaces retired state Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio). Straus, who served as speaker for the last decade, announced his retirement in October 2017.
Several lawmakers announced plans to run for speaker soon after Straus announced he would leave the Legislature; Bonnen was not one of them. He publicly announced his intention to run at the end of October 2018. Less than two weeks later, he held a press conference to reveal he had the votes needed to win the race.
Bonnen was first elected to the Legislature in 1996; this will be his 12th term in office. Away from Austin, Bonnen is the chief executive officer of Heritage Bank in Pearland.