BY ROBERT MORALES
The lazy Texas Legislature is back in session, and once again, the three primary governmental lobbies are trying to convince lawmakers to make a change in the public notices law.
We call it the “lazy Legislatureâ€ because legislators work 140 days every two years, also known as the biennium. Short of a constitutional amendment, Texans must accept this less-than-reasonable arrangement. It is practically impossible for our lawmakers to make prudent decisions for two years in only more than four and a half months.
Weâ€™ve said it before, and weâ€™ll say it again, itâ€™s time to change the Texas constitution to opt for a full-time legislature, a well-paid legislature that doesnâ€™t depend on wealthy persons who can stay away from their jobs and their towns for more than months. Weâ€™ve previously advocated paying a full-time legislator up to $100,000 per year so that anyone can run for office, not just the well-connected.
This week, we will begin running a series of advertisements provided to us from the Texas Press Association regarding legal notices. The three major governmental lobbies â€“ the Texas Association of Counties, the Texas Municipal League and the Texas Association of School Boards â€“ are once again trying to change the manner in which public notices are posted.
These three (and other organizations) argue that public notices should not be published in the newspaper of record; instead, they say, public notices can simply be posted on a governmental website. We would have no problem with that theory, aside from the fact that in a community like ours, too many people are still not connected to the internet, whether it be a cost factor, or whether it be a technological factor of not having a computer or not knowing how to operate a computer.
Changing the current law regarding public notices would do great harm to not only the citizens of Van Horn and Culberson County, but to the whole state a whole. People deserve to know when thereâ€™s a zoning change. People deserve to know when a person has made a bid on a property for unpaid taxes. People deserve to know when an oil company plans to build a major pipeline through someoneâ€™s property. People deserve to know when landowners plan to sell a large of amount of drinking water to oil company for fracking.
Small and large newspapers will fight this effort hard. The Texas Press Association will do everything it can to keep our records open so that people will be informed. You have the right to know about what your local and state governments are doing.
Thatâ€™s why you should tell your state representative and your state senator that they should fight against these offensive and less-than-transparent bills that the three major lobbies are trying to pass.
Please contact your state representative and your state senator: State Representative Poncho Nevarez: 512-463-0566; State Senator Jose Rodriguez: 512-463-0129.