Texas Municipal League

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The Texas Municipal League is a government sector lobbying association in Texas. It was founded in 1913 and its mission is "to serve the needs and advocate the interests of its members."[1] It is a 501(c)(4) organization.[2]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Texas government sector lobbying

Taxpayer-funded lobbying is the use of public money by a government entity for the promotion of specific policy agenda.[3]

The Texas Municipal League has registered lobbyists with the Texas Ethics Commisison.[4] Local governments like Abernathy pay membership dues to belong to the organization.

The league seems to be opposed to limits on government sector lobbying by the legislature, and sees this as a matter of local control (see Lobbying priorities below). The Texas Municipal League states it would oppose moves to:[3]

f. limit or prohibit the authority of city officials to use municipal funds to communicate with legislators


and

g. limit or prohibit the right of the Texas Municipal League to use any revenue, however derived, to communicate with legislators.

Income and expenses

In 2007, the program services expenses for the Texas Municipal League totaled $4,102,392.[2] This included:

  • Member services: $1,327,728 (this includes the coordination of member and board meetings)
  • Legislative services: $596,525 (this includes monitoring legislative activities of relevance to members and communication to those members)
  • Legal services: $466,567 (legal research for members, legal advice, and speaking engagements are included in this section)
  • Program development: $1,233,765 (development programs for members)
  • Administration and in-house printing: $477,807


Texas Municipal League
Year Total expenses Total income Membership dues
(included in total income)
2007[2] $5,209,377 $5,564,168 $1,651,557
2006[5] $5,221,593 $5,352,699 $1,620,970
2005[6] $4,865,791 $4,961,873 $1,597,142

Note: Tax years begin July 1 in the current year and end June 30 the following year.

Stance on open meeting laws

See also: Texas Open Meetings Act

The Texas Open Meetings Act is the focus of the Texas Municipal League. The League wants to remove the penalties for noncompliance under the current law and replace them with less punitive ones.[7] The Texas Municipal League sees the law as a restriction on the First Amendment rights of public officials, stating "less restrictive penalties would not only continue to preserve the integrity of the Texas Open Meetings Act but would also recognize the fundamental right of city officials to free speech."[8] The efforts to weaken the law are funded by public dollars.

The Texas Municipal League supports cities using public money to sue Texas for weakening the Texas Open Meetings Act, which prohibits a quorum of elected officials from discussing official matters outside of a posted public meeting.[9]

Property taxes

The league opposes any legislative effort to give voters the right to reject property tax increases that exceed the rate of inflation and population growth.[9]

Support for Kelo decision

The Texas Municipal League came out in support of the Kelo v. City of New London decision, which affirmed the government's use of eminent domain for the purposes of "economic development." The League's official stance was:

"The Kelo decision is good for Texas cities ... It simply confirms what cities have known all along: under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, economic development can be as much a 'public use' as a road, bridge, or water tower."[10]

This is consistent with the organization's lobbying priorities, which state that the league is opposed to measures that would "erode the authority of cities to condemn property for a public purpose" (emphasis added). The league would also oppose legislation that would "restrict cities’ ability to adopt or amend zoning regulations."[3]

Lobbying priorities

The League’s 2009 legislative priorities were in three general areas. These were:[3] 1. Ensuring revenue flow to cities 2. More funding for infrastructure projects, and 3. Local decision-making.

Burdens on cities

The League wants a decrease in the demands placed on cities by the state that create unfunded mandates.[3] This is when the state of Texas demands cities to provide services for citizens, but does not provide funding, making cities responsible for the actual execution and delivery of services.

The League also wants room for cities to create their own tax incentives and rules.[3]

Infrastructure

TML gives the state of Texas grades ranging from "D-" to a high grade of "C" on infrastructure.[3] These grades reflect the fact that roads are congested and in bad condition, and these bad conditions end up costing motorists money. Bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. There are also deficiencies in drinking water, hazardous waste management and flood control.[3]The organization sees these failures as a result of the fact that the first cuts in a budget are usually infrastructure-related, since these are not immediately necessary.[3]

The League wants to stop top-down restriction of revenue sources by the Texas legislature. Because municipal governments in Texas finance local road construction and pay a significant part of the cost for new state highways, the League argues that these municipalities should have more say in how they will pay for infrastructure.[3]

Local control

The Texas Municipal League wants cities to have more decision-making power. Legislative agenda item number one aims to "defeat any legislation that would erode municipal authority in any way." This section lists specific state actions which diminish the choices of a city by forcing rules and demands on them. Specific things the TML is opposed to include unfunded mandates, having cities acting as collection agents for the state, and state-imposed caps on taxes.[3]

Additionally, the TML wants to change the statute prohibiting the use of public funds for political advertising.[3]

Municipal sovereign immunity

The TML supports sovereign immunity, which is when a municipality is protected from lawsuits.[3]

Affiliates

The following are affiliate members of the Texas Municipal League.[11]

Members

See also: Texas Municipal League members list

External links

References