By Elna Christopher
Director of Media Relations
The House County Affairs Committee voted out HJR 89 on April 14, so there are now two constitutional amendments to prohibit unfunded mandates in the Calendars Committee.
HJR 89 was filed by Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), known and respected as a friend to county government in his role as chair of House County Affairs. Coleman’s amendment would apply only to counties, the local government arm that most often bears the main brunt of unfunded mandates from the state — to which any county official in Texas can attest.
Coleman filed an unfunded mandates ban in the 81st Legislative Session in 2009, which unfortunately never made it past Calendars during the end of a tumultuous session. He also took County Affairs on the road around the state to hear interim charges — a rarity for committees — so that he and his colleagues could meet with more county officials in all areas of the state. Coleman deserves a big thank you from county officials for his understanding of our issues, whether urban or rural.
The other unfunded mandates constitutional amendment filed this session is HJR 56 by Rep. Burt Solomons (R-Carrollton), about which most county officials are familiar since at least 233 counties have passed supportive resolutions.
If your county does not have a date by it on this list that means the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) had not received a resolution from your county by the morning of April 15. Please e-mail a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to Elna at (512) 478-3573 if your commissioners court has passed a resolution but we don’t have it. If your county has not yet passed a resolution, please do so in order that all 254 counties show solidarity to stop future unfunded mandates. TAC has a sample resolution that includes HJR 56 and its Senate companion, SJR 17, by Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas).
Solomons’ constitutional amendment now has 95 authors and co-authors and awaits its turn in Calendars. It applies to counties, cities, community college districts and certain other local entities but not to school districts.