As defined in the Constitution of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas, “It shall be the purpose of this Association to create a greater interest in county government and to unite its members to promote better business methods in county government, and to foster the general welfare of county government throughout all counties in the State of Texas.” When it comes to the counties’ “general welfare,” the Texas Legislature is paramount. As an arm of the State, Texas counties can only do those actions that are specifically authorized by Texas law. Equally important, Texas counties must do those actions that are required by law. This partnership means Association involvement in the Legislature is crucial when it comes to protecting and promoting county government.
The Association’s general counsel, Jim Allison, works year-round monitoring legislative issues during the biennial sessions of the Legislature and the interim period. From prefiling through the regular session and any special called session(s), Jim tracks county-related bills, which usually number some 1,800 on average. The Association’s Legislative Committee members partner with Allison throughout the legislative sessions, participating in a rotation schedule ensuring a County Judge or County Commissioner is in attendance most days of the session. CJCAT Legislative Committee Chairman Robert Johnston, Anderson County Judge, and State Association President Ben Zeller, Victoria County Judge, joined Jim Allison multiple times during the 2021 session. Others including CJCAT First Vice President Rick Bailey, Johnson County Commissioner, CJCAT Second Vice President Kim Halfmann, Glasscock County Judge, and past presidents of the CJCAT participated in the rotation schedule, attending briefings, visiting with representatives and senators, testifying before House and Senate committees, and monitoring legislation. The CJCAT team was often joined by Rick Thompson, legislative consultant with the Texas Association of Counties.
Our thanks to the Association for this opportunity to cover the CJCAT at the Capitol.