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TipSheet: Travis County, 4.2.19

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 by Ryan Thornton

The Travis County Commissioners Court meets every Tuesday at 9 a.m. To help keep our readers informed, each week we offer a selection of interesting items from the voting session agenda. The entire agenda can be found on the Travis County website.

7. Consider and take appropriate action on an interlocal agreement with the Austin Independent School District for the Family Resource Centers program. (Commissioners Shea & Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: This action is for $100,000 in Fiscal Year 2019 to continue Travis County’s partnership with Austin Independent School District, the city of Austin and Austin Voices for Education and Youth to use community schools as hubs for social support, community outreach and education for youth and families throughout the calendar year. The AISD FRC program is currently in effect at five middle schools and one high school. The county says the program has been effective in improving student attendance and academic performance.

10. Consider and take appropriate action on legislative matters, including: a. Update on legislative activities b. Senate Bill 1281, relating to assessments for water and energy improvements in certain municipalities and counties c. Modifications to the Priorities, Policy Positions, and Positions on Other Proposals sections of the Travis County Legislative Agenda (Judge Eckhardt)

Monitor’s Take: The court will be hearing about the legislative progress Tuesday morning, including the new momentum of the property tax bill from late last week. For now, at least, the bills still haven’t been taken up for debate either by the Senate or the House. Intergovernmental Relations will also be discussing SB 1281, a bill related to property assessments and energy and water improvements.

11. Consider and take appropriate action on the following alternate member appointments to the Indigent Legal Services Work Group: a. Rhiannon Hamam b. Dominic Selvera (Commissioner Gómez)

Monitor’s Take: The court approved two private defense lawyers to fill the group’s empty seats at Chair Amanda Woog’s request on March 12. Woog also asked the court to fill the two alternate seats at that time, saying that the alternates were helpful as members of subcommittees as well as acting replacements when members were absent. The court wasn’t ready to do that on that date, with County Judge Sarah Eckhardt particularly interested in learning more about the potential replacements before making a vote. It appears the court will be ready to fill those roles this week after doing some research into the backgrounds of two defense attorneys, Rhiannon Hamam and Dominic Selvera. The group has until May 10 to work out a complete proposal for its application to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.

30. Consider and take appropriate action on a resolution for the County to comment on clean water rules under consideration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (Judge Eckhardt & Commissioner Shea)

Monitor’s Take: It appears the court would like to comment on the EPA’s Waters of the United States rule, drastically reducing the amount of waters that fall under the protection of the Clean Water Act, including roughly half of the nation’s wetlands and 20 percent of stream and river miles. Commissioner Brigid Shea, an avid career environmentalist and champion of Save Our Springs, will likely have a strong stance on this issue.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Travis County Commissioners Court: The legislative body for Travis County. It includes representatives from the four Travis County Precincts, as well as the County Judge. The County Judge serves as the chair of the Court.

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