For the first time in over 100 years, the Texas Legislature will convene during a worldwide pandemic. While health concerns will affect the proceedings, the legislature will consider many bills that affect county government. With limited access to the Texas Capitol, county officials must use all available means to communicate with legislators. We will continue to post legislative analyses, updates, and alerts on the listservs hosted by the Texas Association of Counties. If you are not presently participating in either the Commissioners Court listserv or the County Judges judicial listserv, please contact TAC and submit an email address.
The basic legislative program of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas is contained in the Resolutions adopted at the State Conference (see page 17). Please review these resolutions and contact me if you need further information on these issues. These resolutions may be adapted for consideration by the Commissioners Court and submitted to your legislators. Please send me a copy of all communications with your legislators.
Legislators file hundreds of unfunded mandate bills each session. These originate as “good ideas” to expand services or programs. With a reduction in projected state revenues, these bills propose mandatory funding from county taxpayers, resulting in a county property tax increase. Please request that your legislators oppose all unfunded legislation that imposes a duty on counties and support legislation that provides discretion to county officials.
Several states have adopted constitutional prohibitions against unfunded mandates. H.J.R. 32 by Rep. Hugh Shine would include a constitutional amendment on the November 2021 ballot to prohibit future unfunded mandates. Please request that your state representative become a co-sponsor of H.J.R. 32.
Counties currently increase their ability to communicate with legislators by joining together in nonprofit organizations and by retaining professional consultants (lobbyists). This provides expert analysis to the legislature and assures that the full effect of proposed legislation is presented. The ability to join together in an association is particularly important to small-to-medium-sized counties, who would not otherwise be recognized in the process. Legislation has been introduced to silence the voices of county officials. H.B. 749 by Rep. Mayes Middleton would prohibit counties from expending any county funds for a nonprofit association or individual that provides legislative communication. Please request that your legislators oppose this and other legislation that would prevent county officials from providing collective information to the legislature through our associations.
For additional information, please call me at 1-800-733-0699.