According to the Constitution of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas, one of the purposes of the organization is to “encourage active participation in governmental affairs.” This active participation has become more vital to “foster the general welfare of county government” in recent years.
The direction of the state legislature and its relationship to county government will be determined in the next few months. The art of partisan redistricting has been perfected at the state level. There are very few House or Senate seats that are actually in doubt in the November election. Most legislative contests will be resolved in the party primaries in March.
Due to retirements and defeats in the primary, there will be more legislative turnover during this year than any other in the next decade. Twenty-four House members and six senators have announced that they will not be seeking re-election. Significant changes in district boundaries will result in additional candidates. This is the season for evaluation of these candidates.
The Resolutions adopted at the State Association Conference published in this issue provide a good basis for discussion with legislative candidates. These resolutions are also listed under Legislative Update on the State Association website, www.cjcat.org.
For a brief encounter, the following questions will provide a summary basis for candidate evaluation: First, what is your position on unfunded mandates? Will you support a constitutional amendment to require the state to fund any mandatory duties imposed upon county government? Second, what is your position on local decision-making? Will you oppose legislation that imposes a one-size-fits-all philosophy and support local options wherever possible? If you are able to obtain responses to these questions, please let me know.
In the next few weeks, the lieutenant governor and the speaker will issue interim charges to the committees of the Senate and House, respectively. The committees will conduct hearings, prepare reports, and draft legislation on these issues. As this process progresses, we will provide additional information to enable your participation in these studies. We cannot wait until January 2023 to begin our “active participation in governmental affairs.” Let’s begin now.
General Counsel, CJCAT