By Ruth Ann Ruiz
The Post Newspaper Features Editor
“It’s just kind of a lighter feeling when you’re no longer running for office,” said State Senator Larry Taylor. His last day in office is just around the corner on January 10, 2023.
Taylor went to Austin as a casual man with the spirit of a surfer. He grew up surfing the beaches of Texas and will claim Galveston as his favorite, but he did cheat a little on his favorite beach over in Hawaii for two years where he surfed some of the big waves.
As a surfer, neckties were not part of his wardrobe, but were required once he became a legislator. Now that he has retired, he might also retire his business suit and tie and catch a bunch of waves wearing board shorts.
He has fond memories of tanker surfing. “Typically, you go surfing right off the Galveston Seawall because it’s so close,” explained Taylor. Sometimes he’d surf in Galveston Bay catching the waves of a tanker. “You can surf a tanker wave for ten minutes,” explained Taylor.
After close to 20 years serving in both in the Texas House and Senate, Taylor decided to retire.
Senator Taylor is best known for his work as the chair of the Education Committee in the Senate.
“When asked to be chair of the Education Committee, I took it with much fear and trepidation, but then I developed a passion for it. I love kids. When I see a student, I see a family tree. If we can get one child and change him or her, we can change a family tree,” said Taylor
“As a member of the Education Committee, I learned a lot in my first year. For instance, 60% of our public-school students in Texas are on free or reduced lunch. How are you going to turn that around? Unless you give them a really good education, you can’t turn it around. Those numbers are going to continue to go up,” said Senator Taylor.
“I’ve always been a fixer. I saw that as a problem that needed fixing,” said Taylor.
Rather than just write a bill, Senator Taylor turned to the people working in education to get some answers for fixing the problem.
“I wanted to get the knowledge from those on the job in education to make the best decision. It was an incredible group of folks very diverse. There was 100 hours of expert testimony with people setting aside their differences,” said Taylor
From the guidance of many voices working in the field and community members, Senator Taylor sponsored House Bill 3. With its passing, school finance was overhauled in the state of Texas.
Because of his bipartisan work on developing an education bill, he has received numerous awards for his contributions to education in Texas.
Taylor views some of the solutions to student’s success lies in dual learning environments with students being educated in virtual classrooms along with live in-person instruction.
He also worked on coastal issues, such as reforming the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.
When it comes to reflecting on his 20 years as a legislator, what comes to his mind are the years he served in the House and the numerous fists fights he witnessed or heard about. “It was like a zoo in the House. There are 150 people who must get along with,” explained Taylor.
“The senate is more gentile; you get a lot more done in a more timely fashion. There are only 31 people who you have to communicate and negotiate with,” explained Taylor.
He is retiring from his service in the state legislator but not going back to his career in insurance. He sold his family insurance company after Hurricane Harvey. “I was busy with legislative issues and helping muck out buildings and houses in the community and I looked at the damage at my office and decided to sell the business and building,” shared Taylor
Within just 1.5 hours of committing to selling his insurance business he had a buyer for both the business and another for the building. “It was a Godsend selling both so quickly,” Taylor shared.
If he has any irons in the fire for future political or business positions, he’s not talking.
His plans right now are to enjoy his grandkids, some of whom live in Nashville where he will spend more time. His passion for surfing and riding off-road dirt bikes will take up a lot of his time and he most likely won’t have to set an alarm clock for a while at least, till he is asked to take on another role.