Counties at the Capitol Day is Feb. 5, 2019
Shortly after the Texas Legislatures gets back into the swing of things, county officials will gather in Austin for TAC’s Counties at the Capitol Day. The Feb. 5 event will get attendees up to speed on the most significant issues facing Texas and county government in the 86th legislative session. The day-long program offers ample opportunity for county officials to connect with their legislators and their staffs.
A breakfast session held at TAC’s building, at the corner of 13th and San Antonio streets, kicks the day off. Members of the Legislature will share their perspectives on the big issues being considered at the Capitol. Attendees will have the chance to share their county’s concerns, priorities and ask questions of the speakers.
“The world is run by those who show up, so I encourage all county officials to make a point to attend this event,” said TAC Legal and Legislative Department Director Garry Merritt. “I also want to encourage everyone to contact their legislators ahead of time to let them know they will be in Austin and want to meet with them.”
When the morning program ends, around 10:30 a.m., county officials are encouraged to make the short walk over to the Capitol to visit with their legislators.
“This is about building and strengthening these relationships — these partnerships between the state and counties — it’s about having face-to-face discussions on important issues. That’s how county officials can make an impact at the Capitol,” said TAC Senior Legislative Manager Rick Thompson. “The challenges counties are facing this session only make an event like this all that more important.”
Officials can share their concerns with their legislators and staff members in meetings or lunches that afternoon. Thompson recommends making a point to arrange these meetings several weeks ahead of time. Officials can use the state’s Who Represents Me? website (https://fyi.capitol.texas.gov) or the Texas Tribune’s elected officials directory (www.texastribune.org/directory) to get contact information for their legislators.
“The regular session is 140 days,” said Merritt. “The further in we get, the tougher the decisions get for legislators. They need to know that the county officials in their district are a trusted source of information and guidance about what proposed policies would look like in practice. Counties at the Capitol Day is one of the important ways we can cultivate that relationship and trust.”
The day’s events come to a close with a Legislative Reception at the TAC building, 4:30-6:30 p.m. “Don’t forget to invite your legislators and their staffs to attend the TAC Legislative Reception that evening,” Thompson said. “This is the perfect opportunity to engage with the legislators and staffers in an informal setting. Those opportunities can be rare once the session really gets going.”
Tuesday Morning Breakfasts Return
The Texas Legislature will be back on Tuesday, Jan. 8. County officials can grab a hot breakfast and food for thought from the experts in TAC’s Legislative Services Division each Tuesday morning throughout the session.
TAC hosts county officials from across the state, along with other local government stakeholders and key members of the Capitol crowd, for a working breakfast meeting each Tuesday starting at 7:30 a.m. The meetings focus on important county-related bills moving through the chambers of the Legislature, updates from county official associations, the inner workings of the legislative process and other timely topics for the week ahead.
The free breakfasts are also a great opportunity to meet TAC staff and network with other elected officials. “We strive to make sure these meetings are a useful working meeting that puts everyone on a good footing at the start of the week,” said TAC Senior Legislative Manager Rick Thompson. “I encourage every county official to attend if they’re in town. As we get deeper into the session, these meetings take on a more grab-and-go format looking at the big issues of the week. It’s been an absolute essential part of our success during past sessions, and I don’t doubt it will be important this time around, too.”
All breakfasts are held on the fourth floor of the TAC building, a short walk from the Capitol, at 1210 San Antonio St. from 7:30-8:30 a.m. Officials can also park for free in the TAC parking garage while visiting the Legislature.
2019 Legislative Schedule
Below is a list of important dates to note for the 86th legislative session.
Monday, Nov. 12
Bill pre-filing begins
Tuesday, Jan. 8
The 86th Legislature convenes at noon
Tuesdays, Jan. 8-May 21
TAC’s Tuesday Morning Breakfast series, each Tuesday at 7:30 a.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 5
Counties at the Capitol Day
Friday, March 8
Deadline for filing most bills and joint resolutions
Tuesday, April 30
County Government Day at the Capitol
Monday, May 27
Sine Die, the last day of the regular session of the 86th Legislature
Sunday, June 16
Last day the governor may sign or veto bills
Monday, Aug. 26
Bills without a specific effective date become law
Wednesday Sept. 4 – Friday, Sept. 6
TAC Legislative Conference