House Joint Resolution 73
Temperatures in the budget office at Johnson County and the other 253 counties in Texas must have been plummeting toward 32-degrees Thursday night as a proposed amendment introduced by Dist. 58 Rep. DeWayne Burns was passed by the Texas House.
By a vote of 127 to 18, House members supported Burns’ House Joint Resolution 73 that will restrict the State Legislature’s ability to impose mandates on counties and municipalities. The Resolution would require that any state directive to local governments be accompanied by a full appropriation from the legislature or force the state to reimburse counties or cities for the costs they incur implementing it.
“This amendment will provide true tax relief to local taxpayers in every county in Texas,” Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon said. “It will stop future legislatures from passing mandates down to the counties unless they have a funding source other than local taxpayers. This is a huge milestone as it has never successfully passed the Texas House before, and I want to thank Rep. Burns for his determination to provide tax relief to our citizens.”
Harmon opened the May 8 Commissioners Court meeting with a five-minute rant against unfunded mandates, emphasizing his point by asking his colleagues on the court, and other elected officials in attendance, to wear hats with the words “Texas Counties Deliver” as a symbolic protest against unfunded mandates.
There are hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded mandates that local governmental entities are obligated to carry out by state statue each year, Harmon said.
“These mandates include everything from criminal indigent defense and funding appraisal districts, to health care in county jails, the collection of state motor vehicle fees, taxes to train jail staff, jury pay and adult and juvenile probation,” Harmon said.
H.J.R. 73 now moves to the Texas Senate for debate in committee. If it is passed by the Senate, it will be placed on the ballot in November for Texas voters to approve.
Burns is encouraging everyone to contact their State Senator and ask them to support this constitutional amendment.
“If approved, it will mean tax relief for all Texans – period,” Burns said. “Unfunded mandates are effectively tax increases handed down by the legislature on local families and property owners, and implemented by proxy. This practice must be stopped, so I want to thank my colleagues in the House for recognizing this fact and joining me in standing up for true conservative, accountable government.”