Since 2003, 51-year-old House member Dan Branch has packed his bags every other January and headed to Austin to hunker down for the 140-day legislative session. The fourth-term representative for District 108 calls Dallas home, and the bookcase in his Capitol office illustrates his life here and there. With pictures of his wife of 24 years, Stacey, and their five children, along with budgets and history books, it is a blend of paternal and practical. “The things in there go way back,” says Branch. “Whether it’s family, Austin, or working weekends at the ranch, it all reminds me of my roots.” The bookcase sits within inches of Branch’s desk, where he takes meetings, composes legislation, and eats lunch.

Top Shelf

The Power of the Texas Governor, written by my House colleague Brian McCall, of Plano.

• A bust of Sam Houston. As president of the Republic, he visited my district in 1843 to meet with Dallas founding father John Neely Bryan.

Find information on Texas history and Dallas events at

• A memento from my tour of duty on the 2000 Florida recount team. Those are actual chads from Palm Beach.

• A photo of the family from swearing-in day last session.

Third Shelf

• The last three Texas budgets, well-worn from my three terms as a House budget writer focusing on education.

To learn more about the House of Representatives, go to is a comprehensive guide to what the state is spending and where.

Second Shelf

• From my days as an aide to Senator John Tower. Now I chair the board of the Tower Center for Political Studies, at my alma mater, Southern Methodist University.

Visit to find event listings for the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies.

• The gavel recently given to me by Speaker Joe Straus for chairing the House Committee on Higher Education.

• This cartoon ran after we passed the school-day pledges and minute-of-silence bill. We gave members U.S. and Texas flags to thank them for their support.