by Elna Christopher
Director of Media Relations
The chairman of the powerful House Calendars Committee firmly encouraged county officials to keep him informed about the county impacts of bills that reach his committee.
Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) said he intends to seek input on bills when they reach Calendars.
“I will open up the process, not the decisions. But you (will) have input,” Hunter told a crowd at the TAC Tuesday morning breakfast on Feb. 22.
The Calendars Committee is crucial to whether bills move to the floor or die in Calendars. The House system works like this: bills are first heard in the committee to which they are assigned (i.e. County Affairs, Ways and Means, etc.) and then go to Calendars. They must be passed out of Calendars to go to the floor for a full House vote (unless they are dubbed local bills, in which case they go to the Local and Consent Committee). Major bills with statewide impact go to Calendars.
Hunter said county officials should speak up on bills they support and bills they do not support.
He specifically mentioned Sunset bills that will encompass large agencies such as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and noted that many items could be hidden in those substantial and lengthy bills.
“Keep me posted on what you see,” he said. “Come by my office.” (The chairman’s room number is E2.808 in the Capitol Extension.) During the breakfast, the Justices of the Peace and Constables Association of Texas presented Hunter an award for his outstanding work during the previous legislative session. Hunter told the county officials that one-third of the House membership is new this session. “They don’t know what JPs do; they don’t know what constables do,” he said. “And they don’t know the constitutional responsibilities of counties.”
He said county officials must take the time to educate the new members about counties.