Fort Bend County Commissioners Court outlines legislative priorities

During a special meeting Jan. 8, Fort Bend County Judge KP George outlined several legislative priorities for Texas’ 86th legislative session that began Jan. 8, including opposing revenue caps–or limits on local spending– revamping voter registration and the voting system, and supporting Medicaid expansion.

“A lot of the buzzwords out there relating to this is ‘unfunded mandates,’” said Taral Patel, George's chief of staff. “The state will tell the county to do [several things] but do not provide funding for it. The big discussion that is happening in the last couple of sessions is putting caps on the amount of property tax the county can receive and use to carry out the missions of the state.”

One example of an unfunded mandate the county could be facing stems from the state getting rid of straight-ticket voting in which voters could choose which party they would be voting for and automatically select those candidates for all races.

Without the option for straight-ticket voting, voters will spend more time at polling locations resulting in a need for more voting machines, Patel said. A legislative solution would be to create a state fund that provides financial support for voting infrastructure upgrades to the fastest-growing counties in a proportional manner, Patel said.

An additional priority relating to voting includes introducing legislation to create an official website for eligible voters to register online, Patel said. Registration is done through physical avenues costing time and money for the county with processing and data entry.

A final priority for the new county judge involves supporting the state’s opting into expanding Medicaid coverage that would take advantage of taxes paid to the federal government, which has agreed to cover the entire cost of participating states in the first three years and 90 percent of costs afterward, Patel said.

During the special meeting, each district’s county commissioner also presented a preliminary overview of his priorities for the legislative session:

PRECINCT 1: Vincent Morales (Richmond, Rosenberg)
• Legislation allowing the city of Richmond to develop a hotel and convention center

PRECINCT 2: Grady Prestage (Missouri City, Meadows Place, Mission Bend)
• Legislation regarding community colleges

PRECINCT 3: Andy Myers (Katy)
• Extraterritorial jurisdiction detachment
• Strategic partnership agreements
• Open meetings
• County Assistance District spending
• Municipal authority within CADs
• Disbanding CADs
• CAD ability to make loans and grants
• CAD spending
• Local flood control districts
• Human trafficking training
• Junkyard licensing fees
• County regulation of parks
• Utility relocation cost sharing

PRECINCT 4: Ken DeMerchant (Sugar Land, Missouri City)
• Emergency notification system
• Mental health
• Mental health, jail diversion
• Equal pay for equal work
• Trap, neuter and release of stray cats
• Puppy mill regulation
By Beth Marshall
Born and raised in Montgomery County, Beth Marshall graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in communication and a minor in business. Originally hired as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in 2016, she became editor of the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition in October 2017.


MOST RECENT

FBISD chose Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates following presentations from three search firms during a March 3 special meeting. (Community Impact staff)
Fort Bend ISD board of trustees selects search firm to conduct hunt for next superintendent

FBISD chose Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates following presentations from three search firms during a March 3 special meeting.

This month, the Greater Houston area will mark the anniversaries of its first confirmed COVID-19 cases as well as the first deaths attributed to the pandemic. (Courtesy Pexels)
Share your story: Have you lost anyone to COVID-19?

This month, the Greater Houston area will mark the anniversaries of its first confirmed COVID-19 cases as well as the first deaths attributed to the pandemic.

People wait in line to receive a vaccine at an Austin Public Health vaccination site. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas offers COVID-19 vaccinations to school, child care workers

Educators, school staff and child care professionals are qualified to receive coronavirus vaccines effective immediately.

In response to Gov. Greg Abbott's March 2 announcement that Texas' statewide mask mandate and COVID-19-related business restrictions will be lifted as of March 10, the Texas Education Agency released updated public health guidance March 3. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Updated Texas Education Agency guidance allows individual school boards to determine mask policies

"Under this updated guidance, a public school system's current practices on masks may continue unchanged. Local school boards have full authority to determine their local mask policy," the release reads.

H-E-B will continue to require employees to wear face masks until further notice. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
H-E-B to require employees, ask customers to be masked despite upcoming expiration of governor's mandate

H-E-B officials announced their employees and vendors would still be required to be masked while on the job, and customers would be encouraged to wear masks while in stores.

A mandate will remain in effect for the time being requiring all riders to weak masks on vehicles run by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, officials announced March 3.  (Courtesy Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County)
Mask mandate to remain in effect for all METRO vehicles, properties

The announcement comes one day after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott rescinded his mask order for the state.

Design on a transportation project to extend Soldiers Field Drive in Sugar Land is nearing completion. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Design of Soldiers Field Drive extension in Sugar Land nearing completion, construction to follow

The city of Sugar Land expects construction on Soldiers Field Drive to begin in fiscal year 2021-22, following the completion of the Hwy. 6 road widening project.

Fort Bend ISD officials hope to bring the names for two new district schools before the board of trustees for approval in April. (Courtesy Nathan Colbert)
Fort Bend ISD seeks community input on names for two new district schools

Fort Bend ISD officials hope to bring the names for two new district schools before the board of trustees for approval in April.

Photo from inside a movie theater
Alamo Drafthouse files for bankruptcy, closes theaters in downtown Austin and New Braunfels

Most theaters will remain open under an asset purchase agreement to the company's senior lending partners.

Torchy's Tacos is planning to open a new location in Stafford near Sugar Land and Missouri City. (Amanda Feldott/Community Impact Newspaper)
Torchy's Tacos to open first Stafford, 18th Houston-area location in coming months

The new location is expected to open in late spring or early summer.

Fort Bend County Judge KP George is encouraging residents to continue wearing masks to stop the spread of COVID-19 despite a new executive order repealing the statewide mask mandate. (Screenshot courtesy of Fort Bend County)
Fort Bend County judge: Wearing masks 'highly' recommended despite end to statewide mandate

Fort Bend County Judge KP George is encouraging residents to continue wearing masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 despite a new executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott that repeals the statewide mask mandate.