Texas Municipal League
- 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.
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:
f. limit or prohibit the authority of city officials to use municipal funds to communicate with legislators
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. 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
|Year||Total expenses||Total income|| Membership dues |
(included in total income)
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. 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." 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.
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.
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."
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."
The League’s 2009 legislative priorities were in three general areas. These were: 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. 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.
TML gives the state of Texas grades ranging from "D-" to a high grade of "C" on infrastructure. 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.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.
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.
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.
Additionally, the TML wants to change the statute prohibiting the use of public funds for political advertising.
Municipal sovereign immunity
The TML supports sovereign immunity, which is when a municipality is protected from lawsuits.
The following are affiliate members of the Texas Municipal League.
- Texas City Attorneys Association
- Texas Association of Black City Council Members
- Building Officials Association of Texas
- Texas Court Clerks Association
- Texas Municipal Clerks Association
- Government Finance Officers Association of Texas
- Texas Fire Chiefs Association
- Texas Association of Municipal Health Officials
- Association of Hispanic Municipal Officials
- Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers
- Texas Municipal Library Directors Association
- Texas City Management Association
- Association of Mayors, Councilmembers & Commissioners
- Texas Municipal Parks, Recreation & Tourism Association
- Texas Municipal Human Resources Association
- Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association
- Texas Police Chiefs Association
- Texas Public Works Association
- Texas Public Purchasing Association
- Texas Association of Municipal Tax Administrators
- Texas Municipal Utilities Association
- See also: Texas Municipal League members list
- About Texas Municipal League
- Form 990, Texas Municipal League 2007
- Texas Ethics Commission 2010 Lobby List
- Form 990, Texas Municipal League 2006
- Form 990, Texas Municipal League 2005
- A Resolution Relating to Penalties Under the Open Meetings Act
- "Texas Municipal League attempting to weaken Texas Open Meetings Act?, Somerville County Salon
- "Overshadowing sunshine in city government," Statesman, May 11, 2010
- Austin Business Journal, "Kelo ruling is wakeup call," July 22, 2005
- Texas Municipal League - Affiliate Members Listing