March 12, 2021
By Susan M. Redford, TAC Executive Director
February 2021 will be remembered as one of the cruelest months Texas has ever seen. In the midst of a yearlong pandemic, severe winter storms piled ice upon snow upon ice and dropped temperatures well below freezing for more than a week. Roads were impassable, power outages left millions of Texans shivering in their homes for days, and water disruptions affected almost half the state's population.
At least 40 Texans died. The cost from the disaster could end up exceeding the $125 billion in damages from Hurricane Harvey, The Texas Tribune reported.
Gov. Greg Abbott declared the winterization of the state's power system an emergency legislative item for this session. Legislators are investigating the causes of one of the worst power outages in American history and are debating its political consequences.
Texas counties don't make or distribute electricity, but you were hard at work during the crisis even as many of you dealt with a loss of power and water in your own homes. You opened emergency operation centers and warming shelters. You reached out to older adults, people with disabilities and people with critical medical needs. You distributed food, water and other vital supplies. You protected your residents at a vulnerable moment by taking aim at price gouging.
You led through the crisis as you always do, and you will lead toward recovery.
We are here for you as you repair damage to your county courthouses and other buildings. TAC's Risk Management Pool consultants have been reaching out to help you with your disaster claims. Visit www.county.org/Risk-Management for more information.
February's extreme weather complicated the issues counties were already dealing with because of the pandemic — and are facing because of the Legislature. The current session is approaching full speed.
I want to thank TAC's outstanding Legislative Services team for the work they do keeping you up to date with everything that's happening at the Legislature. That effort includes tracking all bills that affect county government, producing our "TAC on the Lege" video series and County Issues newsletter every Friday, hosting our virtual Tuesday Morning Breakfasts and putting on events like our annual TAC Legislative Conference, set for Sept. 1-3 in Austin.
Visit www.county.org/Legislative for more.
More than 400 of you registered for TAC's Counties at the Capitol Legislative Day, which was held virtually Feb. 23. County officials who tuned in heard Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) and state Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) discuss several issues of top importance for counties.
Counties at the Capitol highlights TAC's role as a communication and education arm for counties. Or as Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom described TAC's role to the Wichita Falls Times Record News last month: "They help track the legislation that affects us. They're fact-finders for us. They bring us the pros and cons."
There is strength in numbers. Whether responding to a crisis or recovering from it, or navigating a legislative session, we're better together than we are apart. Stay #254Strong.