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Author Archives: Debra Mergel

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Transfer of Power

By Debra Mergel |

The transfer of power after municipal elections follows a structured process outlined in Texas laws and regulations.  This process is designed to assist the peaceful and orderly transition. Election Night: The elections administrator is responsible for the counting of votes.  Unofficial tallies are usually posted before midnight on election day.   Canvass: The city… Read More »

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Tree Removal Regulations

By Debra Mergel |

A municipality’s authority to regulate tree removal is found in the Texas Local Government Code, Title 7 Regulation of Land Use, Structures, Businesses, and Related Activities; in Subtitle A. Municipal Regulatory Authority; at Section 212.905 Regulation of Tree Removal. Tree removal regulations can vary significantly depending on the specific municipality in Texas.  Many cities… Read More »

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How can I drive in Texas with a foreign driver’s license?

By Debra Mergel |

In Texas, as in many other U.S. states, you can drive with a valid foreign driver’s license for a certain period of time after you arrive in the United States. However, there are some important considerations and rules to keep in mind: International Driving Permit (IDP): While neither Texas nor the United States requires… Read More »

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Holiday Gifts vs. Holiday Bonuses

By Debra Mergel |

The question is often-asked this time of year:  May a city give holiday gifts to its employees, such as a turkey, ham or gift basket? The analysis is important because our Texas Constitution prohibits the grant of public money or things of value to any individual unless it is for a public purpose.  Article… Read More »

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Order in the Council Chambers

By Debra Mergel |

At the beginning of a City Council meeting, the Mayor says: “I call this meeting of the city council to order.” But what does order in a city council meeting look like and how can it be established and maintained? Texas state law does not establish rules of order for city council meetings; however,… Read More »

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ETJ

“Please Release Me, Let Me Go!”

By Debra Mergel |

Previously, our office blogged about what an ETJ is. To recap, the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) is the legal authority that a city holds to regulate and make decisions in areas that are outside of its formal city limits, but still within a designated surrounding boundary.  The ETJ allows a city to plan for future… Read More »

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Municipalities and Wildfire Disasters

By Debra Mergel |

Only YOU can prevent forest fires – Smokey Bear On August 14, 2023, Governor Abbot issued a disaster declaration for wildfire activity for 191 of our 254 counties.  Staying safe during disaster conditions requires a combination of preparedness, communication, evacuation planning, and effective response strategies. Here are 6 areas for municipalities to consider: Preparedness:… Read More »

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“We’re Having a Heat Wave…”

By Debra Mergel |

Texas Cities are dealing with the challenge of unusually extreme heat.  Extreme heat can have deadly consequences, but they are preventable. In the future, cities need to include extreme heat in annual planning and may need to commit significant resources to heat-resilience.  The specific strategies and measures a city employees to handle extreme heat… Read More »

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Special Sessions

By Debra Mergel |

In the 88th Regular Legislative Session, 8,046 bills were introduced and 1,246 were passed. In addition to the regular session, the Texas Constitution grants the governor the authority to convene special sessions as deemed necessary.  Unlike other states, where the legislature may call itself into session, only the governor of Texas may call the… Read More »

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How To Serve Well On City Council

By Debra Mergel |

You decided to throw your hat into the ring.  You campaigned tirelessly with posters, telephone calls and door-to-door visits. You’ve been elected to serve on the city council.  Congratulations!  You will take your oath of office soon. What now? Being an excellent city council member requires a combination of skills, knowledge, and personal qualities…. Read More »

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