State - Local Government

The League of Women Voters of Texas supports more flexible structures and adequate powers at the local level; comprehensive regional state planning, including regional planning councils
Position In Brief: 

The League of Women Voters of Texas supports more flexible structures and adequate powers at the local level; comprehensive regional state planning, including regional planning councils with the following provisions:

  • state financial and technical assistance to regional councils
  • flexible government structures for counties and municipalities, together with legislative and financial powers adequate to provide local services
  • authorization for cities and counties to combine efforts on regional problems enabling performance of services without overlapping costs and taxation, in preference to single-purpose districts (i.e. transportation districts, municipal utility districts, etc.)
  • regulation of single-purpose districts by the state with provisions for greater accountability.
Position History: 

The study of state-local relations, which was begun in 1962, was a logical continuation of the League's study of the Texas Constitution. League members had found many governmental problems that did not conform to an established political jurisdiction. This study included research into constitutional and statutory provisions governing general law cities, home rule cities, and other forms of city government. The League learned in detail about county governments; special districts; how the state administered its services in public education, public health, and water resources; and sources of revenue.

In 1964, comprehensive and regional planning were studied in depth, and the League became interested in councils of government and regional planning councils. In 1971, a reevaluation of councils of government was made with one League from each area doing an evaluation of its own council. The result being that the League continued to support councils of government.

During the 1974 Constitutional Convention, the League worked for constitutional revisions that would allow more flexible structures for county and municipal governments.

The League continues to support expanding the authority of county government to carry out urban activities and giving it the option to assume a larger role in meeting county-wide needs and problems. Legislation granting counties some form of ordinance-making power has been introduced in several sessions, and the League has supported efforts which meet our positions.

At the 1985 state League Convention, delegates asked for an explanation of the part of this position dealing with single-purpose districts. Though the recommendation resulted from an interest in municipal utility districts, preliminary research shows that there has been a proliferation of both single and multi-purpose districts since the position was adopted.

The Periodic Program Review Committee recommended to the 1989 state Convention delegates that the State/Local Relations position be dropped. Delegates voted to retain the position. Some local Leagues have used the position extensively in lobbying for combining certain city and county governmental functions and against overlapping services.

In 1999, the Periodic Program Review Committee recommended retention of this position, and added an explanation of "single-purpose districts."

Issues: 
League to which this content belongs: 
Texas