There are 86 days left in the 140-day regular session of the 88th Legislature. The bill filing deadline arrives next Friday, March 10. More than 4,800 bills have been introduced thus far – about a thousand bills ahead of where the Legislature was at this point in 2021.
We're tracking all bills that affect county government. Find them here.
About 70 sheriffs were in Austin last week for Sheriffs Day at the Capitol. They spent part of the day meeting with their state representatives and senators. Gillespie County Sheriff Buddy Mills, president of the Sheriffs' Association of Texas, presented the Sheriffs' priority issues to this week's breakfast meeting. They include:
- Alleviating staffing shortages within sheriffs' offices and county jails.
- Making sure sheriffs, as the chief law enforcement official in each county, are kept in the loop with school safety legislation.
- Border security.
- Bail reform.
- Mental health in jails. "Jails are not mental institutions," Mills said.
A bill relating to jury service by Rep. Jeff Leach (R- Plano) sparked a conversation around the question of payment for this vital civic duty and how much additional support would come from the state. HB 2014 would increase the pay for jury service from $6 to $20 for the first day and from $40 to $58 for each subsequent day. While the state would increase its reimbursement to counties from $34 to $52 a day for each day after the first day of jury service, counties would be responsible for the $14 first-day increase.
On Feb. 24, Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) filed SB 1196, which would give the Texas Supreme Court, the state's top civil court, the power to overrule the Court of Criminal Appeals, Texas' top criminal court, on criminal state constitutional issues. It's one of a slew of bills in a similar vein that the Texas District and County Attorneys Association is watching closely. For detailed and sometimes irreverent discussions of what these bills might mean for the separation of powers and prosecutorial and judicial discretion, read TDCAA's weekly Legislative Updates.
A new bill by Sen. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) raised a few eyebrows. SB 933 would apply the Public Information Act to private, nonprofit organizations like the Texas Association of Counties. Mayes' earlier bill, SB 175, would ban so-called taxpayer-funded lobbying and repeal the Texas Association of Counties' enabling statute.
Please join us March 7 for our next Tuesday Morning Breakfast. Register here.