January 26, 2021
By Susan M. Redford, TAC Executive Director
January brings about not only a new year, but also new members to the county family. Welcome to all of our newly elected county officials! The dedicated staff at the Texas Association of Counties looks forward to working with you through education, legal, legislative, health and risk issues. There is no better family than the family of elected county officials in Texas!
With January also comes the 87th Texas Legislature, which gaveled itself into session on Jan. 12. This will be a challenging session for local officials on a number of fronts. The Legislature will be facing tough decisions regarding the state budget and redistricting. Your TAC Legislative Services team will be closely watching legislation on these issues as well as other bills that impose unfunded mandates on counties or attempt to prohibit counties’ ability to influence legislation that creates hardships for local government or your affiliate associations.
You can see the bills we are tracking on www.county.org/legislative. We also hope you can join us virtually each Tuesday morning as our team briefs county officials on these issues.
This year, more than any previous year, it is critical that you as a local elected official get involved in the legislative process. There will be many challenges to the decision-making authority of local county officials. You are representatives of the branch of government that is closest to the people and your state representative and state senator need to hear from you. Our goal is to provide you the information you need to better understand the issues confronting county government to enable you to engage with your members of the Legislature. We offer a wealth of resources not only in the legislative section of our website, but also in our weekly “TAC on the Lege” video series and our weekly County Issues newsletter.
Back by popular demand is our Commissioners Court Administrative Training program. These four-hour sessions were created to help commissioners court members and other county officials who are involved in the budget process stay up to date on best practices for budgeting. In collaboration with the V.G. Young Institute of County Government, each workshop will provide an in-depth look at county budgeting and the tax rate calculation process, open meeting and posting requirements, recent legislative changes, and effectively communicating the budget process to the public.
While we are still navigating the waters of COVID-19, this year’s Healthy County Boot Camp and County Court Assistants Training Conference will be held virtually. Healthy County Boot Camp is scheduled for Feb. 11-12 and the County Court Assistants Training Conference will be Feb. 17-19. You can find more information about both on www.county.org. We look forward to in-person conferences again in the near future, but until pandemic conditions improve, your health and safety is our priority.
2021 is off to a fast start, and is proving to be yet another exciting year. We are here to stand for your success as you serve the members of your county. Please do not hesitate to call on us at any time. Stay safe. We remain 254 Strong!