Community Corner

Community Corner

Community Corner
Key Legislation Passed For Denton County

by Denton County Judge Andy Eads

The 86th Legislative Session of the Texas state government recently came to a close. I am happy to report that the Denton County Commissioners Court suggested five bills, and all of them passed.

Our priorities for the 86th Legislative Session were transparency, good governance, life safety improvements and providing access to the judicial system. We are appreciative of our local legislative delegates for sharing our values.

The following is a summary of the Denton County-specific bills filed:

Senate Bill 239
Special District Transparency – Precinct One Commissioner Hugh Coleman worked with Senator Jane Nelson to provide better access to open meetings for residents who live in special districts, including Municipal Utility Districts, Fresh Water Supply Districts or Water Control and Improvement Districts.  This bill requires special districts to hold board meetings within the districts’ boundaries at the request of residents and improves the appeals process at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality when a suitable location is not chosen.  Additionally, it requires a special district to make an audio recording of a public hearing to consider the adoption of a tax rate if given advance written request from a resident.

Senate Bill 1066
DCTA Board Restructure – The original bill creating the Denton County Transportation Authority included the creation of an interim executive committee to serve as the governing board and represent the county as a whole.  Denton County Commissioners Court, along with the three member cities (Denton, Lewisville, and Highland Village), worked together to create a newly structured DCTA board of directors.  Previously, the board held 14 voting members.  The new board has five voting members, one from each member city and two county appointees.  This new structure will better serve member cities and the county as a whole as DCTA looks for ways to grow ridership and expand the agency beyond the traditional train and bus routes.     

House Bill 3714
County Road Streetlights — The County Commissioners Court requested this bill after the January incident involving the loss of two young lives on the “S” curve of Hickory Creek Road in Denton – the most recent accident along a stretch of unincorporated Denton County roads. While we have worked to keep this road and all county roads safe, one tool we need to have in our toolbox is the ability to illuminate county roads for the safety and security of the public. This bill, which passed, will allow our Commissioners to illuminate county roads to improve visibility and assist drivers in navigating complex roads with “S” curves and other configurations in the dark.

House Bill 3716
Medical Examiner Office – Currently under the state statute for county government, counties with 1 million population are required to create an individual medical examiner’s office.  The Denton County Commissioners Court asked for an increase from 1 million to 2 million in population.  Our county population is estimated to be close to 900,000 and expected to reach 1 million within the next 2-3 years.  As a result, we would need to invest more than $4 million to create a medical examiner’s office (plus millions of dollars to build a state of the art facility) in our county.  We currently have a partnership with the Tarrant County Medical Examiner, which delivers quality service.  As good stewards of taxpayer dollars, we feel it would be extremely challenging to replicate a medical examiner’s office at this time.

Senate Bill 891
Creation of a new District Court – In 2016, Denton County hired HDR Architects to determine the future judicial and courthouse space needs of the county. The study concluded with a finding that, at that time, Denton County needed more District Courts to handle all of the cases coming before the courts in a timely, efficient and fair manner. The population of Denton County continues to increase, and case filings related to the population continue to increase. The need for additional district courts also continues to exist.  The creation of the court is set for January 1, 2021, to ensure the dispensation of justice without delay and ensure that the rights of all citizens are protected.   

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