Barely a week after taking their oaths of office, a slate of newly elected officials joined their veteran counterparts in exercising the county’s role as partner to the State of Texas.
State Lawmakers will be asked to consider thousands of bills throughout the 88th Session of the Texas Legislature, and the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas will closely monitor all proceedings to champion and protect county government.
The Texas Legislature meets in a regular session every two years, convening on the second Tuesday in January of every odd-numbered year in Austin. These biennial sessions are limited to 140 days. The governor has the authority to call special sessions as necessary, which cannot exceed 30 days. The Texas Senate is composed of 31 members, and the Texas House includes 150 members.
The 88th Texas Legislature gaveled in on Jan. 10 and will last through May 29. Throughout the session the CJCAT will keep County Judges and Commissioners apprised of legislation that could impact county government.
Under the CJCAT Constitution, the Association Resolutions are automatically included in the Association’s legislative program, said CJCAT Senior General Counsel Jim Allison.
“These resolutions, especially the Opposition to Unfunded Mandates, enable our leadership to present a united effort to oppose legislation that would restrict local decision-making while supporting legislation to enhance county options and discretion,” Allison emphasized. It is important for lawmakers to remember the following:
- County budgets are driven by the laws that are implemented in Austin by the Texas Legislature.
- Counties are limited to property taxes as their main revenue source.
- Taxes, for the most part, are determined by mandates put on the county by the State Legislature.
- Discretionary spending for local services is the first to be cut because spending for state-mandated services is just that, mandated.
- If the state would fund the laws that they adopt, then property taxes could be more closely tied to local services.
New officials may access and download the current CJCAT Resolutions at www.countyprogress.com.
As the session progresses and committee assignments are made in Austin, Allison and the CJCAT Legislative Committee will use the listservs and this magazine to keep members of Commissioners Courts informed. In the meantime, Judges and Commissioners should have immediate access to their legislators’ email addresses and phone numbers so they may address concerning legislation when the need arises.
Dates of Interest for the 88th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature
Official deadlines will be set when the House and Senate adopt their rules, but until then, the Texas Legislative Council Drafting Manual provides the following general calendar:
Bill pre-filing began: Nov. 14, 2022
1st day of session: Jan. 10, 2023
60-day bill filing deadline: March 10, 2023
Adjournment sine die: May 29, 2023
Post-session 20-day deadline for governor to sign or veto: June 18, 2023
Effective date (91st day after adjournment): Aug. 28, 2023