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Water to Be Big Topic for House, Straus Says

Speaking to a cattle raisers' group on Tuesday, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus promised that water "will be at the center of the discussion."

House Speaker Joe Straus entering a GOP House caucus meeting on January 10, 2011.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus promised to work on water issues and protect private property rights at the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association annual meeting Tuesday in Austin.

“When the 83rd legislature convenes in January, we’re going to have a unique opportunity to address the huge growth Texas is experiencing,” Straus said. “Water will be at the center of the discussion.”

Straus remarked on the vital role of water in Texas’ economy and cited the drought and 2011’s brutal heat as reasons to focus on conservation efforts. “I don’t want to reach a day where a Texas company announces it’s moving to Florida or Ohio because of water issues,” he said.

He was careful to balance his call for conservation with an appeal to cattle raisers' property rights, however, noting that he realized the drought had hit agricultural workers hardest and that “stewardship” by private landowners plays a role in conserving water.

He cited Senate Bill 18, which limits eminent domain powers, as an example of commitment to land owners.

“As we move forward in a legislative session where water will be a key issue,” he said, “we will do so in a way that is respectful to individual land owners and cattle raisers.”

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