Dear Citizens of Fannin County,
Tomorrow morning the Texas Legislature will be battling a bill known as HB 749 which will seriously tie the hands of Fannin County, school districts, cities and more. This bill, if passed, will severely limit these entities from communicating with Austin on behalf of the citizens, consequently silencing them. It prohibits an entity from hiring third party lobbyist to represent them in Austin. The burden of reading and understanding literally thousands of legislative bills that are submitted every year will now fall on the elected officials, volunteer mayors, council members, school board members and subsequent staff. Like me, these individuals probably already have full time jobs that take up 40-60 hours a week.
Fannin County partners with the Texas Association of Counties which collectively keeps our county informed of any legislation that could negatively affect our county and citizens. TAC serves an important role to all Texas counties, but especially to rural counties like ours that do not have the resources many larger counties have to create positions to review and communicate legislation and how it may impact our county. TAC provides needed and mandatory training, legal support, insurance, human resources and a variety of other supportive actions that allows our county to function well for our citizens. The services provided by TAC to Fannin County save us several hundred thousand dollars.
You may be asking how this affects you as a citizen. Well here it is in a nutshell: Unfunded mandates. These are laws that are passed down from the State that require a county or other entity to do or to purchase something without providing any money for the mandate.
Bottom line: Unfunded mandates increase an entity’s budget and therefore increases taxes to pay for the unfunded mandates. A loss of revenue in order to pay for unfunded mandates can very easily turn into loss of services for citizens as well. I and the Commissioners do not want that.
If public entities are not allowed to collectively communicate with Austin Legislators (via nonprofit entities like TAC), we will not be able to fight the unfunded mandates that keep getting put on counties and other public entities. There is the possibility entities won’t even know about them until they become law without the help from nonprofits like TAC. It would be much more expensive to hire a full time staff to lobby for us with a salary, paid benefits and housing in Austin than what we pay now.
Fannin County opposes HB 749 and SB 10. Our rural local voices are in jeopardy with these proposed bills.
Sincerely, Randy Moore
Fannin County Judge