By Susan M. Redford, Executive Director
Alot is happening at the Capitol as the 87th Texas Legislature enters its final few frantic weeks. We and our county partner associations are keeping an eye — sometimes a wary one — on all that's going on before the session ends May 31.
County officials believe that the most effective form of government is the one that is closest to the people, and they have been busy these past few months sharing that view with their state representatives and senators. Throughout the session, county officials have emphasized that they stand ready to work with legislators to find solutions that benefit all Texans.
For more than a year, Texas counties have proved how much they matter as they have responded to the coronavirus pandemic. February's winter storms further reinforced why local government is so critical. Examples abound of the valuable work Texas counties do and the vital services they provide.
A few examples can be found in this edition of County magazine, in which we look at how counties are helping Texans get vaccinated against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. In our cover story, we report on some of the hurdles and complex issues officials in Hidalgo and Harris counties have faced as they work to get vaccines to vulnerable communities. In a related story, we look at the steps county leaders in rural counties like Marion County in Northeast Texas have taken to meet the vaccination needs of their residents.
In other words, we look at some different ways counties are delivering the same public health service. The stories offer more evidence that local leaders are indeed the best resource in determining how to effectively carry out policy.
As soon as the final gavel falls on this year's regular session, we'll be dissecting everything that happened at the Capitol and how it affects county government, from unfunded mandates to attempts to deny local flexibility. We'll be preparing in-depth analyses for this year's TAC Legislative Conference, where we also likely will be looking ahead to a special session on redistricting, since new census data isn't expected to be available until late summer at the earliest.
Join us Sept. 1-3 either in person in Austin or virtually online. Visit www.county.org/legconference to register and follow the conference's developing agenda and announcements about speakers.
Of course, there are other events we're looking forward to before then, especially as we hope to return to more in-person gatherings. To name one, the Conference of the County Investment Academy will provide training to all county officials and staff members who want to learn more about county investment operations on June 28-30 in Denton. You can find out more about this and all of our events online at www.county.org/calendar.
As always, thank you for all you do. Stay #254Strong!