Opposition to Senate Bill 2 and Revenue Caps
WHEREAS, the Texas Legislature has previously considered and rejected proposals for additional revenue caps on counties; and
WHEREAS, 60 percent of the average taxpayer’s property tax burden is due to school taxes while only 14 percent is due to county taxes; and
WHEREAS, revenue caps would diminish local control and tie the hands of county officials and limit their ability to provide essential services to address the needs and emergencies of their citizens; and
WHEREAS, county government is already struggling to meet the demands of under-funded and unfunded state mandates such as indigent health care and indigent defense and federal mandates such as the Help America Vote Act and the Clean Air Act; and
WHEREAS, the demands on county budgets continue to increase including health care, motor fuel, road materials, and all other products and services purchased by counties; and
WHEREAS, artificial revenue caps will result in a shift of taxes from fluctuating properties, such as oil and gas, to those remaining relatively stable in value, such as residential properties; and
WHEREAS, revenue caps will not necessarily result in a reduction of property taxes but will result in a severe impact on county services; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 2 also contains many provisions that will undermine a property tax system based upon fair market value and will result in a distorted, inequitable appraisal scheme under which higher value properties will avoid their fair share of the tax burden; and
WHEREAS, it would be inequitable for the Texas Legislature to impose additional revenue caps on local governments without funding, repealing and prohibiting state unfunded mandates;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Commissioners Court of ____________ County, Texas, does hereby express its opposition to Senate Bill 2 and its efforts to limit local control and does hereby oppose any attempts to impose additional revenue caps upon Texas counties, and the Commissioners Court of ____________ County, Texas, expresses its deep appreciation to all legislators who oppose this unsound measure.
Opposition to Unfunded Mandates
WHEREAS, Texas counties are responsible for the operation and management of many and various governmental programs as required or authorized by state law; and
WHEREAS, some county government programs are fully or partially supported with funds disbursed by the State of Texas pursuant to the state appropriations process; and
WHEREAS, the State of Texas, acting through the Texas Legislature or through a state agency or executive order, may enact laws or promulgate rules that have the effect of imposing mandatory financial obligations upon Texas counties; and
WHEREAS, the State of Texas, acting through the Texas Legislature or through a state agency or executive order, mandates that counties implement certain governmental programs or perform certain duties and obligations including financial commitments by a county to expend county funds in connection therewith; and
WHEREAS, during each regular session of the Texas Legislature, all state funds that support county programs are reviewed through the state appropriation process and by other budgetary review systems; and
WHEREAS, the aforementioned review process may result in a reduction, or cessation, of state financial support of county government programs causing an unforeseeable disruption and reduction of the county budget and operations; and
WHEREAS, Texas counties cannot achieve reliable financial planning and the necessary bond ratings sufficient to support county-related obligations when the state mandates a new program that is not fully funded or under conditions where the state reduces or fully withdraws prior funding and disbursement for county government programs;
NOW THEREFORE, the Commissioners Court of ______________ County, Texas, does hereby resolve that for the foregoing reasons, it is in the best interests of Texas counties and their taxpayers to support and favor the passage of legislation in the form of an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Texas that would expressly prohibit the imposition of a mandatory governmental program on Texas counties, whether by an act of the Texas Legislature or a state agency or by executive order, unless the State of Texas has fully funded and disbursed all necessary funds to enable Texas counties to operate said governmental program.
State Funds for Indigent Criminal Defense
WHEREAS, the right to assistance by legal counsel is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution; and
WHEREAS, the State of Texas is required to implement this right and provide legal counsel to indigent criminal defendants; and
WHEREAS, the Texas Fair Defense Act, adopted by the Texas Legislature in 2001, implements this right and requires certain procedures and attorney appointments; and
WHEREAS, the Texas Legislature has failed to provide sufficient funding to offset the costs of the Fair Defense Act and has shifted this cost to county taxpayers; and
WHEREAS, county expenditures for indigent criminal defense have increased over 100 percent since the adoption of the Fair Defense Act; and
WHEREAS, the state funding is totally inadequate, providing approximately 12 percent of the indigent defense costs; and
WHEREAS, indigent criminal defense is a state responsibility that should be adequately funded on a statewide basis, not a burden overwhelmingly borne by local property taxpayers;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Commissioners Court of ____________ County, Texas, does hereby request that the Texas Legislature fully fund the costs of indigent criminal defense.
A Resolution of the County& District Clerk’s Association of Texas
Opposition to re: SearchTX
WHEREAS, the County & District Clerk’s Association of Texas recognizes that the Texas Office of Court Administration (OCA), under The Supreme Court of Texas’s direction, has created re: SearchTX, a web portal to allow judges secure access to a consolidated database of case information that has been e-Filed; and
WHEREAS, the sole purpose of the e-File system developed by the OCA was to provide a delivery system for attorneys to file documents electronically to the courts and that the information would only be retained for thirty days; and
WHEREAS, the OCA is now retaining information filed within the e-File system and plans to make it available to attorneys and the public (for a fee) through re: SearchTX in the near future; and
WHEREAS, as required by the Texas Constitution and state statutes, the county and district clerks of each Texas county are the designated custodians of court records, responsible for the management, preservation and access of court records; and
WHEREAS, Texas counties are responsible for providing resources to clerks for the management, preservation and access of court records by the public including having the option of offering county records through an electronic information system and may provide (on a contractual basis) direct access to the public, by statute;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNTY & DISTRICT CLERKS ASSOCIATION OF TEXAS and its 254 current member counties that for the foregoing reasons, it is in the best interest of Texas counties and their taxpayers to oppose any change to current statutes regarding care, custody and control of records held by the county and district clerks and to any actions that would result in those records being centralized within any other entity, be it public or private.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, we are opposed to the amendment and/or repeal of any current statutes or rules that authorize local control by Commissioners Court in the administration of their duties concerning records held by the county and district clerk or how the counties choose to offer those records to the public.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, finally, we oppose any diversion of existing County revenue to any other government entity concerning records held under local control by statute.
PASSED AND APPROVED by the County & District Clerks’ Association of Texas on this the 22nd day of November, 2016
Celeste Bichsel, President