State Senator J. E. "Buster" Brown represents the 17th District, which encompasses portions of Harris, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties. He is the senior ranking Republican member of the Senate. Senate colleagues elected him President Pro Tempore at the close of the 71st Legislature, and he was sworn in as "Governor for a Day" on October 21, 1989.
Senator Brown is a fourth generation Texan, born and raised in Mercedes, Texas. He graduated from Texas A&I University and taught high school government and history. He later received his LLB/JD from the University of Texas. Following law school, he became assistant district attorney for Brazoria County, where he served until entering private practice in 1972.
Since being elected in 1980, Senator Brown has sponsored 456 bills that have become Texas law. Senator Brown currently serves as chair of the Natural Resources Committee, vice-chair of the Committee of the Whole on Legislative and Congressional Redistricting, and member of the Finance, Administration, Nominations, and the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations committees. For the 1997-98 Interim he has been named Chair of the Senate Interim Committee on Natural Resources, and co-chair of the Water Resources Development and Management. He also serves as a member of the Civil Justice, Finance-Subcommittee on Article 3, Legislative and Congressional Redistricting, and Title Insurance Interim Committees.
He was named Chair of the Sunset Advisory Commission in 1997.This review cycle, the Sunset Commission will be reviewing 25 agencies for efficiency and effectiveness, including many of the health and human service and criminal justice agencies. Some of the larger agencies include the Department of Health, Health and Human Services Commission, Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, Department of Public Safety, Department of Criminal Justice, and the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Brown is also a member of the executive committee of the Energy Council, Chair of the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, member of the Western States Water Council, the Legal Committee of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Energy and Environment Committee of the Southern States Energy Board.
In 1997, Senator Brown passed historic legislation with SB1, the Brown-Lewis Water Management plan. The plan, which includes the state's first-ever drought management plan, provides for Texas' future water needs. Unlike previous unsuccessful water legislation, the Brown-Lewis Water Management Plan united groups from across the state and was overwhelmingly approved in both the House and Senate.
Senator Brown has long been an advocate for children. He authored the original child pornography stature, which he revised during the 75th Legislature to include advances in technology, such as the possession or dissemination of child pornography through computer imaging and electronic transmission. He enhanced the Texas death penalty statute to include murder of a child, and worked with parents to protect children against drugs and violence through increased criminal penalties in, "drug and weapon-free school zones." The State Bar of Texas named him one of the "Best Legislators from a Family Law Perspective," and he has received the Chief Justice Warren Burger Healer Award for his work on behalf of children from the National Council for Children's Rights. He has also been commended for his work in education by the Texas Classroom Teachers Association and the Association of Texas Professional Educators. Senator Brown's work to protect Texans through criminal justice legislation has earned him recognition by many organizations, including "State Senator of the Year" by the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas. He has also been honored by the Texas District and County Attorneys' Association, Justices of the Peace and Constables Association of Texas, the Houston Police Department and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Senator Brown has been named "Legislator of the Year" by the Texas Municipal League and received the Distinctive Service Award from the Texas Chambers of Commerce. He was also honored by the Bay Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America as the 1997 Distinguished Citizen.
Senator Brown and his wife, Jill, live in Lake Jackson. He presently volunteers as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law, and is Chair of the campaign to create the Class of 1967 Endowed Presidential Scholarship at the law school.