This week's virtual Tuesday Morning Breakfast was held the morning after Gov. Greg Abbott's State of the State Address. During his televised speech on Monday, Abbott named five emergency items for the Legislature to take up and consider:
- Expanding broadband internet access across Texas.
- Deterring local governments from diverting or cutting funds from law enforcement budgets.
- Bail reform – specifically, the Damon Allen Act.
- Civil liability protections for individuals, businesses and healthcare providers that "operated safely during the pandemic."
- Ensuring "election integrity."
TAC Legislative Consultant Amy Befeld summarized the governor's address for the 162 people who attended Tuesday's breakfast. As Befeld noted, broadband expansion is a priority item for Texas counties, its urgency made clear by the coronavirus pandemic. TAC released a statement Tuesday applauding Gov. Abbott for his leadership on an issue critical to the state's economic development, telemedicine delivery and public education.
State Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) and Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) have filed companion bills — House Bill 1446 and Senate Bill 506 — that would expand broadband services across Texas. The scope of the governor's legislative priorities will become clear when he issues official proclamations on his emergency items in the coming days.
Additional updates included one from Cameron County Election Administrator Remi Garza, Vice President of the Texas Association of Elections Administrators. Garza said state lawmakers have filed 146 election-related bills to date, including 16 relating to election integrity. A top concern for county governments: changes to election law that impose unfunded or underfunded mandates on counties, which can prove especially burdensome on smaller counties.
More than 2,200 bills had been filed as of Tuesday, a list that will continue to grow until the bill-filing deadline on March 12. Both the Texas House and Senate will reconvene Tuesday, Feb. 9, after a two-week adjournment.
What happens at the Capitol has a broad effect on Texas counties. Stay informed by joining TAC staff members and other county officials from around the state each Tuesday during session at 8 a.m.
Registration is needed for participation. Login instructions will be sent with confirmation of your registration. Please register for our next breakfast on Tuesday, Feb. 9, by 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8.
Please contact Amy Ruedas at AmyR@county.org or (800) 456-5974 with any questions about the breakfast meetings. Stay up to date with the latest from TAC Legislative Services by visiting www.county.org/legislative.