Keynotes for Legislative Conference Confirmed



The 2017 TAC Legislative Conference keynote speakers have been announced, and the agenda is packed with valuable sessions that are not to be missed. 

Dr. Rick Rigsby and Chet Garner, of PBS’s “The Daytripper” will serve as opening and closing speakers respectively at the Legislative Conference, Aug. 23 – 25, in Austin. 

This year’s opening general session will start with the big picture of leadership, and then zero in on what the Legislature did and didn’t do. 

Rigsby, an award-winning former journalist and professor at Texas A&M University, will help kick the conference off with an inspiring presentation about leadership, being empowered to be a great leader, and the difference between making a nice impression and making a real impact for communities.

Following Rigsby’s talk, smile, you’re on camera. New for this year’s opening session, attendees will be in a live studio audience as TAC’s Legislative Department films their 85th legislative session close-out episode of “TAC on the Lege,” the roundtable-style discussion webcast show. They’ll take the attendees through what did and didn’t happen this session, navigating the twists and turns of the good, the bad and the ugly legislation affecting counties. 

This roundtable, and in fact the full opening general session, will be broadcast live on TAC’s Facebook page for those who are not able to attend. Once finished, the videos will remain there for anyone to review in the future. 

Friday morning’s conference closeout event will serve up a full breakfast and send attendees home with new tools they can use to help their constituents better understand their connection to county government.

That morning, the Daytripper himself, Chet Garner, will act as emcee for the debut of a new full slate in the Texas Counties Deliver video series. 

Garner, the creator, executive producer, writer, editor and host of the five-time Emmy-award winning television show, “The Daytripper,” has been working with TAC to produce more than a dozen videos in the Texas Counties Deliver series over the past year. They are featured on TAC’s Youtube channel. The videos educate and inform on the role of county government, the services it provides and the challenges it faces.

Attendees will leave knowing more about how they can use these videos as part of public outreach and education in their own county. Several of the videos have gone viral on social media, including the more than 1 million views Williamson County Justice of the Peace Bill Gravell garnered on TAC’s “How Did We Get to 254 Counties?” video he posted on Facebook.

Texas Counties Deliver was launched in 2015 as a public education campaign aimed at improving the public’s understanding of county government. In addition to the popular video series, the full campaign also includes the website, brochures, infographics and other tools county officials can use, and a series of how-to articles in County magazine to inspire county officials to take action in more effectively telling their county’s story and defining the conversation about county government. 


Breakout Sessions Confirmed

The live edition of the “TAC on the Lege” webcast featured during the opening session of the conference will review some of the big issues covered in the 85th legislative session. On Thursday, 10 breakout sessions dive deeper into those big issues important to county government. The sessions will feature experts and key players who will give attendees a more detailed understanding of these key issues. 

Choose the topics most relevant to you and customize your conference experience while in Austin. This year’s sessions include:

Working with your County Veteran Service Officer – Identifying Resources

Surveying Unfunded Mandates

Technology in Courts – The Future of Re:SearchTX

Criminal Justice Roundup

The Intersection of Law Enforcement and Mental Health

Slash and Burn: State Budget Cuts to Counties

Talking Property Taxes

Future of Emergency Management Funding 

Criminal Justice Reforms: A Look Back and A Look Ahead

Statewide Legislative Exchange

Invite Your Legislators

This conference is designed as a way to bridge the county courthouse and the Capitol. It’s an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of partnership between counties and the state. To that end, TAC has again formally invited every member of the Texas Legislature to attend this year’s conference. 

“Developing relationships with senators and representatives, as well as their staff, is absolutely essential for communicating the county message and make sure the state and local governments work well together as partners. Don’t underestimate the power of a phone call to personally invite your legislators to connect at this conference,” said TAC Legislative Director Paul Sugg.

Having state senators and representatives joining county officials in Austin for three days of sessions, working meals and informal meetings on some of the most important issues facing Texas today is an invaluable opportunity for building and strengthening relationships moving forward. County officials are strongly encouraged to reach out to their legislators about the invitations.

The invitation for legislators includes two complimentary registrations and the opportunity to meet privately with county officials in their district. Informal conversations between legislators and county officials can help establish county officials as go-to resources for legislators and help raise awareness of county government concerns and local issues.

“Legislators can rely on county officials as a valuable resource. Counties are where the rubber meets the road on state policy,” TAC’s Legislative Director Paul Sugg said. “But they cannot know exactly how valuable a resource local officials are unless they have good relationships with them. It’s incumbent upon county officials to make those first steps and build that relationship here.”

CommCube.pngThe CommCube Returns

In the past year, social media has taken center stage in politics across the state and across the country. Joel Nihlean of TAC’s Communications Department will again be on hand to talk about how social media can help county officials quickly communicate the right information to constituents in their county using established digital communications methods like Twitter and Facebook, as well as other platforms.

The CommCube will offer bite-sized sessions on social media scheduled at convenient times throughout the conference. The 20-minute overviews will take participants from the basics needed to effectively use social media as a public figure, including real life examples, to more advanced tips for maximizing the power of these channels. Attendees will come away with a better understanding of the technology, the reasons why it is so valuable and how their office and their county can benefit from using it.

The Texas Counties Deliver Video Story Booth

The TAC legislative conference is an event focused on the legislative process, and at the heart of politics and the legislative process there must be a good, simple story. That’s why TAC is providing a platform for county officials to share their stories of how they serve their communities and what it means to them. We know Texas Counties Deliver, now it’s time to spread the word. 

County officials can take advantage of this story booth to share what serving in county government means to them, talk about the challenges, the solutions, the joys, their hopes for the future of their county, and much more. A copy of each participant’s recording will automatically be emailed to them so they can share it on Facebook or other social media channels.

story-booth.pngThe booth will run Wednesday and Thursday, in room 602. With permission, some of these recordings may run during the closing general session or be posted on TAC’s social media channels. 

Join us at the 2017 Legislative Conference, Aug. 23 – 25 in Austin. Don’t miss the most comprehensive county government conference of the year.

Connect with your county government peers from across the state;

Pick up best practices for communicating essential information to your constituents;

Learn about the opportunities and obstacles counties may see come out of the Capitol; 

Explore new strategies for improving collaboration and leadership; and

Exchange your experiences, know-how and contacts with other attendees.

Register today and book your room at the JW Marriott. Check the TAC website, Facebook and Twitter feed, and watch for emails to get conference updates.


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