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Local Leader Attends Statewide Conference

Published Aug. 31, 2011 @ 5 p.m.

Garza County Judge Lee Norman joined other leaders of many of Texas’ 254 counties in Austin last week to hear legislators and local government experts discuss how the outcome of the 2011 state legislative session will affect their counties and their local taxpayers.

Judge Norman attended the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) post-legislative conference Aug. 24-26 , where U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) wrapped up the event with a talk on national issues affecting Texas and local governments. 

“The conference was an important learning experience, as we in county government deal with the reality of more austere budgets and trying to keep local tax rates as low as possible for our constituents,” Judge Norman said. “Discussing with our peers different ideas for coping with these tough economic times was particularly important.”

Judge Norman discussed Garza County issues with the Executive Director Adan Munoz, Jr. and Chairman of the Commission Judge Donna Kleager.

Almost 800 county officials registered for the conference, which also included important sessions with Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples; state Reps. Tryon Lewis (R-Odessa) and Veronica Gonzales (D-McAllen) and former state Rep. Fred Hill of Richardson. The conference included special recognition of three state legislators for their work with county officials – Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) and Reps. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) and Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerrville).

Due to state budget cuts and a tight economy, county officials were very interested in unfunded mandates and cuts to state programs that could translate into higher costs at the local level. The attendees broke into round-table discussions on topics such as health care, redistricting, indigent defense, juvenile justice and election law changes.  Keynote speaker Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, gave his take on Texas politics.

 

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