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2017-08-31

Local Officials discuss effects of Legislative Session on County Gov't

Contributed

Gwenda Tschirhart, Tax Assessor-Collector was one of hundreds of county officials who gathered in Austin Aug. 23-25 at the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) 2017 Legislative Conference to discuss common concerns shared by Texas’ local governments. The conference is a platform to learn about the biggest issues facing counties and local taxpayers following the 85th regular and special sessions.
“The Legislative Conference is the one time each year county officials from around the state can get together as peers and as community leaders to discuss common issues and potential solutions to our shared challenges. It is here that they discuss the impacts of the recent legislative sessions, the workings of which will undoubtedly affect counties in many ways,” said TAC Executive Director Gene Terry.
During their three days in Austin, county officials heard from their peers, experts and legislators on several hot topics affecting counties, including:
• An update on restrictive property tax legislation, a central focus of the 85th regular and special legislative sessions;
• An update on current issues in mental health and criminal justice programs aimed at reducing incarceration rates for individuals with mental illness;
• An examination of the rising costs of unfunded and underfunded state mandates;
• A look at county veteran service officer programs and available resources for the state’s veteran population; and,
• Candid discussions of numerous other issues counties face.
In addition, the conference’s general opening and closing sessions included presentations by Dr. Rick Rigsby, who discussed the best ways for county officials to engage and grow influence with their legislators and constituents; and Chet Garner of PBS’s The Daytripper, who has been collaborating with TAC on a series of educational shorts about the value of county government.
Other notable speakers included Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) and Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo) who spoke on session panels and answered county officials’ questions about a variety of legislative topics.
Several county officials and department heads also led discussions and helped educate their colleagues on a number of topics. Those county officials and county employees included Bastrop County Commissioner Clara Beckett, Tom Green County Auditor Nathan Cradduck, Travis County Constable chief deputy Bobby Gutierrez, Jackson County Sheriff A.J. “Andy” Louderback, Dallas County Veteran Services director Zach Migura, and Bexar County Auditor Susan Yeatts.
TAC works to unite Texas counties in search of solutions to the challenges faced by all 254 counties and to provide services to support county officials in the vital work they do for their local communities.