Dennis Bonnen

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Dennis Bonnen
Speaker pro tempore of the Texas House of Representatives
Assumed office
January 31, 2013
Preceded by Beverly Woolley
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 25th district
Assumed office
January 14, 1997
Preceded by Jack Harris
Personal details
Born Dennis Higgins Bonnen
(1972-03-03) March 3, 1972 (age 46)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Kimberly Bonnen
Relatives Greg Bonnen (brother)
Education St. Edward's University (BA)

Dennis Higgins Bonnen (born March 3, 1972) is a banker and businessman from Angleton, Texas, who has been a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives for District 25 since 1997. He was initially elected to the position at the age of twenty-four.[1] In 2013, he was appointed by Speaker Joe Straus as the Speaker Pro Tempore, in which capacity he acts as the presiding officer of the House in the Speaker's absence.[2]


A native of Houston, Bonnen resides in Angleton, the county seat of Brazoria County in southeastern Texas. A son of David and Matina Bonnen, he graduated in 1990 from Angleton High School[2] and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1994 from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. St. Edwards granted Bonnen its "Alumni Achievement Award" in 2001. While in college, Bonnen was in 1993 the sergeant-at-arms of the Texas House of Representatives. In 1995, he was a member of the advance team for Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole of Kansas. Bonnen won his legislative seat in 1996, as Dole was losing his presidential bid to Bill Clinton though Dole still carried the electoral votes of Texas.[3]

Bonnen is the chief executive officer of Heritage Bank in Pearland.[4][3] He is a charter member of the Brazoria Heritage Foundation and the Angleton Exchange Club. He is also a member of the Pearland Exchange Club. He sits on the Levi Jordan Plantation Historical Society. He is a lifetime member of the Brazoria County Fair Association and a long-term supporter and advisory board member of the Boy Scouts of America, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Junior Achievement. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce organizations in the various cities in his House district.[3]

In 2009, the Houston Business Journal honored Bonnen with one of its inaugural "40 Under 40" awards, which recognize the top young business professionals in the Houston area. He is the honorary chairman of the "Count on Us" campaign at Brazosport College, a community college in his district.[2]

Political life[edit]

When the Republican Representative Jack Harris did not seek reelection in 1996, Bonnen ran for the position in the Republican primary election. Dianne Hensley led a four-candidate field with 3,075 votes (28.2 percent). Bonnen finished second with 2,706 votes (24.77 percent), just 10 votes ahead of Arch Hartwell "Beaver" Aplin, III, of Angleton, who polled 2,696 votes (24.69 percent. Dee Allen finished fourth with a critical 2,444 (22.4 percent).[5] In the second round of balloting on April 9, 1996, Bonnen defeated Hensley, 3,939 (54.6 percent) to 3,273 (45.4 percent).[6]

In the general election on November 6, 1996, coinciding with the U.S. presidential election, Bonnen defeated Democratic candidate David S. Miller, 28,981 (66.9 percent) to 14,315 (33.1 percent).[7] Bonnen has prevailed over his opponents since his initial election to the legislature. In 2002, he defeated Democratic candidate Ricky Don Ertell 19,148 (69 percent) to 8,592 (31 percent).[8] In 2004, he defeated Democratic candidate Wade Hoy Weems 30,139 (66 percent) to 15,514 (34 percent), a margin nearly identical to the 1996 general election returns.[9]

In addition to his Speaker Pro Tempore duties, Bonnen is the chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission[2] and the House Special Purpose Districts Committee. He is the vice chair of the Joint Committee of Oversight of Higher Education Governance, Excellence & Transparency. He also sits on the Natural Resources Committee.[3]

In the 2013 legislative session, Bonnen supported a ban on abortion after twenty weeks of gestation; the bill passed the House, 96-49. He backed companion legislation co-sponsored by his physician brother to increase medical and licensing requirements of abortion providers.[10] Texas Right to Life rated him 80 percent in 2013, 71 percent in 2011, and 100 percent in 2005. Each year he was rated "zero" by the National Abortion Rights Action League.[11]

Bonnen voted against a taxpayer-funded breakfast program for public schools; the measure passed the House, 73-58. He co-sponsored legislation to provide marshals for school security as a separate category of law enforcement officials. He did not vote on the bill requiring the immunization of minors without parental consent, a measure which the House nevertheless approved, 71-61. He also did not vote on an "equal pay for women" measure, which passed the House, 78-61. He co-sponsored the law to extend the franchise tax exemption to certain businesses. Bonnen voted to prohibit texting while driving. He voted to require testing for narcotics of those receiving unemployment compensation. He co-sponsored two pieces of legislation to forbid the state from enforcing federal regulations of firearms and to allow college and university officials to carry concealed weapons in the name of campus security. He co-sponsored legislation to reduce the time required for an individual to procure training to obtain a concealed handgun license; the measure cleared the House, 116-30. He voted for the redistricting bills for the state House, the Texas Senate, and the United States House of Representatives. He did not vote on a bill establishing term limits for certain state officials, and the resolution failed on the House floor.[10]

In 2011, Bonnen voted against an amendment to legislation to ban smoking in public places, but the measure passed, 73-66. He approved a measure to reduce funding for state agencies. He voted to require women procuring an abortion to first undergo a sonogram. Bonnen opposed legislation to establish corporal punishment as a method of discipline in public schools, but the measure passed, 84-55.[10]

In 2013, Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, managed in Texas by Cathie Adams, a former state chairman of the Texas Republican Party, rated Bonnen 87 percent favorable. The Young Conservatives of Texas rated him a cumulative career score of 66 percent. The conservative Heritage Alliance rated him 77 percent in 2009. Bonnen in 2013 was ranked 63 percent by the Texas League of Conservation Voters and 15 percent by the Sierra Club. Another interest group, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, founded by Michael Quinn Sullivan, rated him 60 percent in 2013 but 88 percent in 2011. The Texas Association of Business and the National Rifle Association gave him scores of 86 percent and 100 percent, respectively.[11]


In July 2014, Bonnen made a remark on the House floor referring to children displaced from Hurricane Katrina as "coonasses". Media reports characterized his use of the term as "derogatory", "offensive," and a "vulgar slang term."[12][13][14]

Personal life[edit]

Bonnen and his wife, Kimberley, have two children. Bonnen's brother, Greg, is a neurosurgeon and the Republican representative for Texas House District 24. [4]


  1. ^ "Rep. Bonnen, Dennis (District 25)". Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d "State Rep. Dennis Bonnen District 25 (R-Angleton)". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d "Biography for Dennis Bonnen". Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Greg Bonnen's Biography". Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  5. ^ "1996 Republican primary election returns (House District 25)". Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  6. ^ "1996 Republican runoff election returns (House District 25)". Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  7. ^ "1996 General election returns (House District 25)". Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  8. ^ "2002 General election returns (House District 25)". Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  9. ^ "2004 General election returns (House District 25)". Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c "Dennis Bonnen's Voting Records". Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  11. ^ a b "Dennis Bonnen's Ratings and Endorsements". Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  12. ^ "TX Republican Calls Language of Displaced Katrina Kids 'Coonass' (Watch)". Eur Web. July 31, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
  13. ^ Yvette (July 31, 2014). "TEXAS LAWMAKER CALLS KATRINA CHILD VICTIMS "COONASS"". Black Like Moi. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
  14. ^ Flatow, Nicole (July 30, 2014). "Texas Lawmaker Uses Ethnic Slur To Describe Child Victims Of Hurricane Katrina". Think Progress. Retrieved October 2, 2014.

External links[edit]

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jack Harris
Texas State Representative
for District 25 (Brazoria County)

Dennis Higgins Bonnen

Succeeded by