Legislative Hot Sheet February 13 - 19, 2017
Today (Friday, February 17) is day 40 of the 2017 session; and the cut-off date for bills to be heard and moved out of the committee of origin.
I am pleased to announce that each of the WACO priority bills have cleared this first hurdle. At least one version of each of our initiatives has now moved to the appropriate rules or fiscal committees. This is yet another testament to the good work that the WACO legislative team and the affiliates’ members on the legislative committee.
The Auditor’s fee bill (HB-1345) is still in the House Transportation, which is its committee of origin. The cut-off date to move that bill out of that committee isn’t until this Friday, February 24th. Stay tuned.
On Thursday, the Senate Local Government Committee heard the FSI bill (SB 5772). The video of the hearing is linked below in our detailed report; and our powerful messages did not fall on deaf ears. While there are exceptions, I believe that most of the Senators have accepted the fact that the counties’ financial crisis is real and needs to be addressed. I think the reluctance by some to support the bill is over concerns that their support may be interpreted, as they were responsible for raising taxes.
The hearing also gave us the chance to again use and test the social media side of our legislative communications plan. We have been tweeting from most of the legislative committee hearings, and the FSI hearing was no exception. I am happy to report that the “Twitterstorm” netted over 21 thousand impressions; which accounts for a 441% increase in traffic during the event. I can say with certainty that your stories and concerns are getting attention on the hill and beyond.
Your legislative team has done great work. As we look to the next cut-off, just a week away on February 24, we are busy working to move our bills out of all committees to prepare for a floor vote. The week of February 20 is a critical juncture in the session; it is where we will be able to determine whether our policy initiatives have legs to stand or have fallen along the wayside. We will be working on Monday to stay current with any legislative action that occurs.
One thing that we haven’t covered is a listing of bills that we are opposing and those we’ve successfully thwarted. We’ll cover those next week. The next big test for WACO is the budgets. We expect that every effort will be taken to siphon state/county shared revenues, and drain funding for some of the support the state provides to the counties. At that step, we expect a huge volume of significant events happening with great frequency. We are truly blessed with a team who has the subject matter expertise and the stature on the hill to address those events as they happen.
We will need your help! In the coming week, you may be tapped to contact your local legislator. You are our best advocates, and you have the most weight in telling your story to your legislators.
Take care! Scott
P.S. Senate bill 5710 limits the assessment of penalties against a governmental agency when they neglect to provide public records but acted in good faith. This bill was heard on Friday, February 17, at 8:00 AM before the Senate State Government Committee. There was a moment of levity during the hearing. It starts at minute 29 of the hearing (Link to hearing).