TAC Legislative Conference

September 1 - 3, 2021

Fairmont Austin Hotel
101 Red River St.
Austin, TX 78701

For more information contact Deanna Auert or Nino Miranda at (800) 456-5974.

In response to your feedback, we have transformed the TAC Legislative Conference, scheduled for Sept. 1-3, into a hybrid event. We hear you and understand the demand to expand our services and offer multiple ways for you to connect with us. 

Join us for the first time in TAC Legislative Conference history as we explore a new way to share important information with you and your county.

Get in-depth analysis of what transpired during the 87th Legislative Session when you attend TAC’s Legislative Conference this September. Join your peers in public service, either in-person or virtually, from across the state at the premier conference for county government in Texas.

What is a hybrid event?

A hybrid event is a conference that combines an in-person event with a virtual component. That means you can join us at the Fairmont Hotel in Austin, or you can join in from the comfort of your own home or office through a virtual conference platform. Register today for in-person or virtual participation. 

New! Legislative Conference Online

You can now connect with us and county officials from every office and every corner of the state, plus legislators, officials and other experts from the convenience of your county.
Register early at reduce rates today. This year’s in-person conference rate is $230. This year’s virtual event rate is $175.
Check back often for conference updates. Many county officials can also earn hours of required continuing education at the conference.

Already Registered?

We are excited that you have already registered to attend in person! If you would like to change your in-person registration to an online registration, just email us and let us know. You will need to call the hotel at (512) 600-2000 to cancel any hotel reservations.

Keynote Speaker

Evan Smith is the CEO and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, a pioneering nonprofit, nonpartisan digital news organization whose deep coverage of Texas politics and public policy can be found at its website, texastribune.org, in newspapers and on TV and radio stations across the state, and in the print and online editions of the Washington Post. Since its launch in 2009, the Tribune has won international acclaim and numerous honors, including a Peabody Award, sixteen national Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association and three general excellence awards from the Online News Association. Evan is also the host of “Overheard with Evan Smith,” a weekly half-hour interview program that airs on PBS stations around the country. Previously he spent nearly 18 years at Texas Monthly, including eight years as the magazine's editor and a year as its president and editor in chief.

Registration Fees

Registration Type Early Bird After August 9th
In-Person County Official or Staff $230 $250
In-Person Half-Day Fee (Wednesday only) $75 $75
In-Person Single-Day Fee (Thursday only) $155 $155
In-Person Half-Day Fee (Friday only) $75 $75
In-Person Non-Member (government) $280 $300
In-Person Non-Member (corporate half-day, single day or full attendance) $430 $430
In-Person Spouse Fee $30 $30
Virtual Registration $175 $175

Please make checks payable to Texas Association of Counties.

Virtual Registration

Once you have registered for the virtual event, you will receive a personalized participation link to the virtual event will be emailed to you a few days before the start of the program.

Note: Event confirmation emails will come from Events@Accelevents.com to the email address that was used to register for the event.

How to Access the virtual event platform:

Conference attendees will need to access the internet and use a browser to log in and join the virtual event. While almost all internet browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, etc.) should allow the event to be accessed, we've found that it works most smoothly in Google Chrome, as other browsers may experience issues. Internet Explorer is not a supported browser for the event.

Google Chrome is a free download; however, some county information technology departments may require county staff to get approval before downloading new software.

Special Services

To ensure that our conference is ADA accessible to all, please contact Deanna Auert or Nino Miranda at (800) 456-5974 if you need assistance.

Thank you to our Conference Sponsors!


Platinum Sponsors


Gold Sponsors
    
Bronze Sponsors
       

      

Fairmont Hotel
101 Red River St.
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 600-2000

$200 single/double, plus applicable tax
Check-in: 3pm | Check-out: Noon

  • Once your online registration is complete, your confirmation email will include a link to make hotel reservations. Emails will be sent to the address on the registration form. 
  • Conference registration is required to reserve a hotel room in the conference block. The hotel will not accept any call-in reservations.
  • Hotel reservations made without conference registration are subject to cancellation or an increased hotel rate.
  • Hotel reservations must be secured by Aug. 9. After, all rooms are subject to availability and a price increase.
  • If you must cancel a room reservation, please notify Deanna Auert​.In the event of a waitlist, this allows others an opportunity to stay at the host hotel.

*The Fairmont has extended the group rate three days prior to Sept. 1 and three days after Sept. 3.

Overnight Parking – Prices shown include a 25% discount for attendees.
*prices may changes

  Valet Parking Self-Parking
0-3 Hours $18 $11.25
3-6 Hours $24 $18.75
Daily – Overnight $36.75 $27

Internet

Due to popular request, TAC has negotiated to have WiFi available in the meeting space. A conference password will be given out onsite.

Complimentary high-speed internet access in guest rooms and all areas of the hotel is complimentary for all Fairmont President Club Members. Membership is free! Sign up at www.fairmont.com/fpc.

Wednesday, Sept. 1
4:30-6 p.m. Exhibit Hall Welcome Reception​ (in-person only)
Thursday, Sept. 2
4:30-6 p.m. Legislative Reception (in-person only)

 

Wednesday, Sept. 1
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Registration and Information Desk Hours (in-person only)
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Meet and Greet Exhibitors (in-person only)
1-2 p.m.

Preconference Session - Social Security-The Choice of a Lifetime (in-person only)
Filing for Social Security benefits might seem like a simple, straightforward decision. But with so many rules that can impact the benefits you receive, your Social Security filing decision is actually more complicated than you might think. While everyone’s personal situation is different, there are  key considerations you should make as you begin to plan your Social Security filing decision: Filing early might not be for you. Filing before full retirement age makes sense for some people. You may be able to delay filing and take advantage of delayed Social Security credits can increase Social Security income by as much as 76%.

Join us for a compelling presentation on this very important topic…that may well be your choice of a lifetime!

Ms. Roberta S. Eckert, Vice President-Insights and Solutions Field Team, Nationwide Retirement Institute

2-4:30 p.m.

Opening General Session

Welcome
Presiding: Hon. Renee Couch, Comal County Treasurer and President, Texas Association of Counties
Ms. Susan M. Redford, Executive Director, Texas Association of Counties

Stronger Together
Mr. Evan Smith, CEO and founder of The Texas Tribune

4:30-6 p.m. Exhibit Hall Welcome Reception (in-person only)

4:40-6 p.m.

Optional Mini Sessions (in-person only)

CommCube - Media Relations 101: Tips of the Trade

Module One: Build and Maintain Reporter Relationships | 4:40 p.m.

Module Two: Plan and Pitch Proactive Stories to Reporters | 5:10 p.m.

Module Three: Sell Your Story in a News Interview | 5:40 p.m.
Presented by Leslie Rhode, Strategic Communications Consultant and Media Specialist, Leslie Rhode Stories
(20 minutes each, attend all three for 1 hour of CE)
Thursday, Sept. 2
7 a.m.-5 p.m. Registration and Information Desk Hours (in-person only)
7-7:50 a.m. Breakfast (in-person only)
8-9:30 a.m. Meeting of County Affiliate Organizations (in-person only)
County Associations organize and host a 1.5 hour meeting to discuss legislative issues or association business during the conference
9 a.m.-3:20 p.m. Exhibit Hall Hours (in-person only)
9:30-9:50 a.m. Break
Virtual attendees visit the TAC Booths
9:30-9:50 a.m. Optional Mini Sessions (in-person only)

CommCube - Media Relations 101: Tips of the Trade, Module One: Build and Maintain Reporter Relationships.
Examine methods to network and connect with news reporters and organizations through traditional and digital mediums.

Presented by Leslie Rhode, Strategic Communications Consultant and Media Specialist, Leslie Rhode Stories
(20 minutes each, attend all three for 1 hour of CE)

9:50-10:55 a.m.

Legislative Discussion Sessions (1-5)

1. COVID-19 Creates Unprecedented 2020 Election
How did COVID-19 impact the conduct of the 2020 elections in Texas? How will COVID-19 affect future elections in Texas? Join our panel of election experts to explore these questions.

Moderator: Ms. Nanette Forbes, Legislative Consultant - County & Districts Clerks' Association, Texas Association of Counties

Speakers: Mr. Keith Ingram, Director of Elections Division, Office of the Texas Secretary of State
Ms. Christina Adkins, Legal Director – Elections Division, Office of the Texas Secretary of State

Hon. Heather Hawthorne, Chambers County Clerk, Elections Legislative Chair for the County & District Clerks’ Association of Texas
Chris Davis, Williamson County Election Administrator, Legislative Chair for the Texas Association of Election Administrators

2. Criminal Justice Reforms: Trends in the 87th Legislative Session
Learn about criminal justice legislation and initiatives from experts in the Legislature and in the field. There will be a specific focus on legislation involving the state’s bail system and the law enforcement profession. Legislation involving the intersection between mental health and the justice system will also be discussed.

Moderator: Ms. Amy Befeld, Legislative Consultant - Texas District & County Attorneys Association, Texas Association of Counties
Speaker: Representative Andrew Murr, Texas House of Representatives, District 53, Chair of House Corrections Committee
Hon. J. Staley Heatly, 46th Judicial District Attorney, Wilbarger, Hardeman and Foard Counties

Hon. Brian Hawthorne, Chambers County Sheriff

3. American Rescue Plan: Applicable Uses, Documentation, and Resources
The 117th Congress passed one of the largest spending programs in our country’s history with the $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan, aiming to speed the national economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Texas counties have received half of the $5.6 Billion in direct payments, but how is that money being used? What issues are counties having in meeting federal reporting requirements? What success stories are there across the country that could be replicated in your county? The National Association of Counties will provide an update on all this, and more.

Moderator: Mr. Austin McCarty, Legislative Consultant - Federal Issues & Sheriffs' Association, Texas Association of Counties
Speaker: Mr. Mark Ritacco, Director of Government Affairs, NACo (National Association of Counties)

4. Emergency Management – Natural Disaster Preparedness and Recovery
Now that hurricane season is underway, it’s important to remember the core functions of emergency management for natural disasters. Come learn about disaster recovery programs and short and long term assistance available to your county.

Moderator: Ms. Aurora Flores, Legislative Consultant - Treasurers' Association & Core Legislative Group Coordinator, Texas Association of Counties

Speakers: Hon. Jimmy Sylvia, Chambers County Judge
Ms. Heather Lagrone, Senior Deputy Director, Community Development & Revitalization, Texas General Land Office

5. Redistricting
Redistricting – It happens once in a blue moon, causes extremes of anguish, frustration and, for some, even delight. Join us to learn about the patterns of demographic growth in the state that drive the need for both state and county redistricting and get a handle on what you need to know about the redistricting process.

Moderator: Mr. Tim Brown, Senior Analyst, Texas Association of Counties
Speakers: Mr. Robert T. Bass, Partner, Allison, Bass & Magee, LLP
Dr. Lloyd Potter, Texas State Demographer, Texas Demographic Center

10:55-11:15 a.m. Break
Virtual attendees visit the TAC Booths
11:15 a.m.-12:20 p.m.
Legislative Discussion Sessions (1-5)

1. COVID-19 Creates Unprecedented 2020 Election

2. Criminal Justice Reforms: Trends in the 87th Legislative Session

3. American Rescue Plan: Applicable Uses, Documentation, and Resources

4. Emergency Management – Natural Disaster Preparedness and Recovery

5. Redistricting

12:20-1:50 p.m. Networking Lunch (in-person only)
Dine with your fellow attendees, then take a tour of the exhibit hall and visit with vendors.
1:30-1:50 p.m.

Optional Mini Sessions (in-person only)

CommCube - Media Relations 101: Tips of the Trade, Module Two: Plan and Pitch Proactive Stories to Reporters.
Create a plan for outlining talking points for your county story. Examine the difference between a news release and a news pitch. Learn best practices to reach out to a news organization.

Presented by Leslie Rhode, Strategic Communications Consultant and Media Specialist, Leslie Rhode Stories
(20 minutes each, attend all three for 1 hour of CE)

1:50-2:55 p.m.

Legislative Discussion Sessions (6-10)

6. Property Tax Reform
Join us for a discussion of where lawmakers are going next with property tax reform. In this session we will discuss emerging trends in property tax related legislation, what passed during the 87th Legislature and what we can expect the legislature to revisit next session.

Moderator: Mrs. Katy Estrada, Legislative Consultant - Tax Assessor - Collectors' Association, Texas Association of Counties
Speakers: Hon. Christina McMurray, Randall County Tax Assessor Collector

7. Broadband Expansion Office Plan in Place- What’s Next?
Gov. Greg Abbot named broadband expansion an emergency item for the 87th Texas Legislature. A top priority for counties, broadband expansion has long been an important issue, but it is even more critical as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve. County government officials and staff are often the first tasked with navigating and meeting resident need associated with the state's lack of broadband connectivity. Hear a discussion among state leaders regarding the broadband office and plan.

Moderator: Mr. Rick Thompson, Legislative Consultant – County Judges and Commissioners Association, Texas Association of Counties
Speakers: Representative Trent Ashby, Texas House of Representatives
Ms. Jennifer Harris, State Program Director, Texas, Connected Nation Texas 
TBD, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Hon. J.D. Clark, Wise County Judge

8. Funding for Counties in the State Budget
Counties fund and provide programs for which they share the cost with state government –e.g., adult and juvenile probation and community-based programs, cost of appointed counsel for indigent defendants in criminal cases, et al. Some of these programs are funded in the state budget. Staff from agencies that provide grants to counties – the Governor’s Office, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice – would provide overview of grant programs, including funding, matching requirements, restrictions on the use and availability of funds.

Moderator: Ms. Zelma Smith, Financial Analyst, Texas Association of Counties
Speakers: Ms.Trina Ita, MA, Associate Commissioner, Health & Human Services/Behavioral Health Services
Mr. Geoff Burkhart, Executive Director, Texas Indigent Defense Commission
Mr. Brady Franks, Deputy Director, Governor’s Budget and Policy Office

Ms. Aimee Snoddy, Executive Director, Governor’s Budget and Policy Office

9. NACo: Texas Counties’ Trusted Voice in D.C.
NACo’s advocacy at the federal level is a critical steady presence in Washington as we work together to communicate Texas counties’ priorities to Congress, federal agencies, and the White House. This partnership has taken center stage in recent times as COVID-19’s devastating impact necessitated careful and consistent coordination between local, state, and federal officials. Join us as we look back at past challenges and successes, current priorities, and how together we can continue to Keep Texas 254 Strong.

Moderator: Mr. Pete Winckler, Legislative Consultant - Auditors' Association, Texas Association of Counties
Speakers: Mr. Matt Chase, Executive Director, National Association of Counties
Hon. Glen Whitley, Tarrant County Judge, NACo Past President

10. COVID-19 and the Courts
Join us for a discussion about how courts across the state have adapted to the effects of COVID-19. Hear from state leaders and judges on the impact legislation will have on all levels of courts moving forward. Receive an update on virtual hearings, increased civil dockets, criminal caseloads, and best practices.

Moderator: Ms. Kelsey Bernstein, Legislative Consultant – Justices of the Peace & Constables Association, Texas Association of Counties
Speakers: Mr. David Slayton, Administrative Director, Office of Court Administration
Representative Jeff Leach, Texas House of Representatives
Hon. Nicholas Chu, Travis County Justice of the Peace
Hon. Don Allred, Oldham County Judge

2:55-3:20 p.m. Ice Cream Social Break (in-person only)
Virtual attendees visit the TAC Booths
3-3:20 p.m.

Optional Mini Sessions (in-person only)

CommCube - Media Relations 101: Tips of the Trade, Module Three: Sell Your Story in a News Interview.
eview methods for connecting with your audience and staying on message during any interview.

Presented by Leslie Rhode, Strategic Communications Consultant and Media Specialist, Leslie Rhode Stories
(20 minutes each, attend all three for 1 hour of CE)

3:20-4:25 p.m.

Legislative Discussion Sessions (6-10)

6. Property Tax Reform

7. Broadband Expansion Office Plan in Place- What’s Next?

8. Funding for Counties in the State Budget

9. NACo: Texas Counties' Trusted Voice in D.C.

10. COVID-19 and the Courts

4:30-6 p.m. Legislative Reception (in-person only)
Friday, Sept. 3
8-10:30 a.m. Registration and Information Desk Hours (in-person only)
8:30-9 a.m. Breakfast (in-person only)
9-10:30 a.m. Closing General Session

Applications for continuing education credit is submitted to each governing body listed below. Upon approval, the number of continuing education hours will be posted. Please check back often for updates.

Continuing Education Type Hours
CPA/Auditors Pending
Commissioners Pending
County and District Clerks Pending
County Judges Not Approved by Texas Judicial Academy
Justice of the Peace Pending
PHRs and SPHRs Pending
Purchasing Agents Pending
Sheriffs & Constables (TCOLE) Pending
Tax Assessor-Collectors Pending
Treasurers Pending
Attorneys (MCLE) Pending

Conference Cancellation:

All cancellation and refund requests must be received in writing (fax or email acceptable). Refunds requested before Aug. 14 are subject to a $10 processing fee. Refunds after Aug. 14 will be subject to an administrative fee equal to one-half of the registration fee. No refund requests will be honored after Sept. 4. Please email Nino Miranda or fax (512) 477-1324 to cancel your conference registration.​

Hotel Cancellation:

If you must cancel a room reservation, please notify Nino Miranda. In the event of a waitlist, this allows others opportunity to stay at the host hotel.

Your Connection to Texas Counties 

​You’re invited to the 2021 TAC Legislative Conference. Register today to strengthen your connections with county officials in your district and from across the state.

The conference takes a deep dive into the most pressing issues counties face today. Each county office will be represented at this premier event. 

We offer you:

  • Two complimentary registrations with an invitation to attend the conference reception on Thursday, Sept. 2, 4:30–6 p.m.
  • Your Constituents – Upon request, we’ll send a custom list of your pre-registered constituents. 
  • Private Meeting Space – With your registration, we offer you the opportunity to visit privately with your constituents attending the conference. To host an exclusive meeting with attendees from your district, contact Deanna Auert. Space is limited, choose the time and date most convenient to you and reserve it today.
  • 3 meeting rooms, Sept. 1, 5-6 p.m. – (Hospitality Provided)
  • 3 meeting rooms, Sept. 2, 12:20-1:50 p.m. – (Lunch Provided)

Contacts

Deanna Auert, Education Project Manager
TAC Office, (512) 478-8753 or (800) 456-5974

Schedule of Events

Wednesday, Sept. 1
2-4:30 p.m. Opening General Session (in-person only)
4:30-6 p.m. Exhibit Hall Welcome Reception (in-person only)
5-6 p.m. Exclusive Meetings for Legislators and County Officials (3 rooms)
Hospitality Provided (in-person only)
Thursday, Sept. 2
8-9:30 a.m. Meeting of County Affiliate Organizations (in-person only)
County Associations organize and host a 1.5 hour meeting to discuss legislative issues or association business during the conference.
9 a.m.-3:20 p.m. Exhibit Hall Hours (in-person only)
9:50 a.m.-4:25 p.m.  Legislative Discussion Sessions
12:20-1:50 p.m. Exclusive Meetings for Legislators and County Officials (3 rooms)
Lunch Provided (in-person only)
4:30-6 p.m. Legislative Reception (in-person only)
Friday, Sept. 3
9-10:30 a.m. Closing General Session

Your Connection to County Government

Sponsors:

NEW this year! Sponsors can now complete paperwork and pay with a credit card online!

First, log-in to the TAC member portal located in the top right corner of the TAC homepage. Next, locate the 2021 Legislative Conference in the Calendar of Events and click register. Then, choose sponsorship opportunities to add your preferred sponsorship options. Once the registration is complete, Deanna Auert will follow up to confirm and get your hotel room needs.

First-Time Users

  • Click "Forgot username?"
  • Enter your email address and click "Submit."
  • Check your inbox for a TAC email with your username and logon instructions.

If you receive a message that your email address cannot be found:

  • Click "Create a new account."
  • Enter required fields *.
  • Click "Save."

Returning Users

  • Log in with your username (email address) and password.

Registration Assistance

  • For more information, please contact Deanna Auert at (800) 456-5974.

Cancellations

Sponsorship cancellations must be made in writing before July 2, 2021 to receive a 50% refund. Any sponsorship that requires a company logo to be printed on a promotional item or on multiple print pieces will be final upon receipt of payment and cancellations are not permitted.  Sponsors cancelling after July 1 are responsible for payment in full or may jeopardize future sponsorship opportunities.

Vendors:

Visit the County Progress website​ or contact Sarah Lazarowitz for vendor registration. 

Join us in Austin this August as 600+ Texas county officials and staff gather. This is a prime opportunity to display your goods and services to decision-makers in county government.  

Booth Specifications

The $700 registration fee includes a standard booth, registration for two and access to two sleeping rooms at the host hotel.

Hotel reservations must be made through Sarah Lazarowitz when booth registration is complete. Company representatives are welcome to attend all conference activities

Standard exhibit booths consists of 10’x10’ exhibit spaces. Booth spaces are equipped with 10’ back drape, 3’ side dividers, 6’ skirted table, 2 chairs and standard ID sign.

Schedule of Events

Tuesday, Aug. 31
1-4 p.m. Vendor Move-in (in-person only)
Wednesday, Sept. 1
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dedicated Time with Exhibitors (in-person only)
2-4:30 p.m. Opening General Session
4:30-6 p.m. Exhibit Hall Welcome Reception (in-person only)
Thursday, Sept. 2
8-9:30 a.m. Meeting of County Affiliate Organizations (in-person only)
9:50 a.m.-4:25 p.m. Legislative Discussion Sessions 
9 a.m.-3:20 p.m. Exhibit Hall Open (in-person only)
3:30 p.m. Exhibit Hall Tears Down (in-person only)
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