News Article | March 31, 2023
Tuesday Morning Breakfast Highlights
Previous breakfast meetings have noted how preemption has emerged as a defining feature of the 2023 session. On Tuesday, Amy Bishop and Tom Harrison with the Texas County & District Retirement System spoke urgently about another proposal that would restrict independent decision-making.
In targeting environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) policies and strategies, Senate Bill 1446 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) threatens TCDRS's ability to operate proficiently in today's investment world, they said. While TCDRS itself does not have an ESG policy, such policies are increasingly common in the corporate and investment worlds. SB 1446 could prompt TCDRS's investment partners to choose not to do business with the fund, Bishop said, harming its ability to maximize benefits for the 345,000 Texans it serves. Further, the bill would expose the fund's nine-member board, all county officials, to liability.
"Nothing is safe, not even your retirement," Jim Allison, senior counsel for the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas, said as he placed SB 1446 within this session's push against local control.
Potter County Clerk Julie Smith, legislative co-chair of the County and District Clerks' Association of Texas, flagged HB 2020 by Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress) as another attempt by the Legislature to usurp local authority, in this case a power granted county commissioners courts by the Election Code. The bill, which was scheduled to be heard in the House Elections Committee on Thursday, would allow the Secretary of State to suspend or remove a county elections administrator for one of five causes and appoint a new one.
An identical bill in the Senate, SB 823 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), was scheduled to be heard by the State Affairs Committee on Thursday.
Grayson County Treasurer Gayla Hawkins, president of the County Treasurers' Association of Texas, said she was expecting SJR 28, a proposed constitutional amendment by Sen. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) that would abolish the office of treasurer in Galveston County, to come out of committee this week. Indeed, the Senate Local Government Committee voted on Tuesday to send the resolution to the full Senate for consideration. Before it can go to the voters for ratification, SJR 28 must pass each chamber of the Legislature by at least a two-thirds vote.
There are 58 days left in the 140-day regular session of the 88th Legislature. More than a third of the more than 7,900 bills filed this session affect county government. TAC's Legislative Services team is tracking them all. Find them here.
Additional legislative resource materials can be found at www.county.org/legislative.
What happens at the Capitol affects counties. Stay up to date by joining TAC's Tuesday Morning Breakfasts in person or online each week at 7 a.m.