85th Legislative Session
The 85th Legislative Session was one of the most challenging for municipal government in recent history. Despite an environment that at times seemed hostile to the idea of local control, the City of Houston’s Government Relations team proposed an ambitious agenda to improve the services of municipal government. The details of the bills that passed and failed are the subject of this report.
However, a listing of wins and losses would not accurately reflect the narrative of both how and why the team efforts where focused on specific efforts. The story of the session should reflect the efforts of the individuals who worked on behalf of the Government Relations team. Thanks are due to the City Legislative Ad-Hoc Advisory Group, the legislative liaisons, those who testified before committees, and the members of the Houston lobby team.
The legislative priorities included changes in public safety policy for parking in yards, the regulation of scrap tires, and changes to election reporting systems. While these measures may sound very local in nature, they are required legislative action at the state level.
The City’s lobbying efforts were focused around preserving local control and preventing unfunded mandates. There were an increased number of bills introduced that endeavored to prevent cities from responding to the needs of their citizens and enacting ordinances unique to the municipality. There were bills focused on limiting the City’s ability to regulate revenue caps, Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones, Strategic Partnership Agreement, Special Purpose Annexations, and Full Purpose Annexations. The City of Houston’s team worked hand in hand with the Texas Municipal League and formed a coalition of big cities to defeat harmful legislation. We were successful in preventing many unfunded mandates and preserving local control.
To better illustrate the city’s work this session, the Government Relations team has worked to include video clips of testimony on key measures. Telling the story of how policy recommendations were met and decided will help better inform governments at various levels understand the importance of the City of Houston’s Legislative Priorities and Principles.
Document links below are .pdf