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County Judge Hidalgo Outlines Key Accomplishments During First State of the County Address

Friday November 15, 2019

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo joined businessleaders, residents, and community leaders from across the region to deliver the first State of the Countyaddress of her term. During her remarks to about 900 attendees, Judge Hidalgo outlined key areas ofprogress in fostering a safer, healthier, and more equitable Harris County and announced a new initiativethat will focus on improving early childhood development.

“The state of our county is strong,” said Judge Hidalgo. “But being strong is about much more thanhaving a low unemployment rate or a strong bond rating. It’s about making sure that all of our residentsenjoy equal access to the great opportunities available to them in Harris County. Over the past year we’vemade county government more transparent, made strides to reform our criminal justice system, and havebegun to make up for lost time when it comes to investing in our flood control infrastructure. But there ismuch more to do, and we look forward to another year of ambitious, meaningful initiatives, including afocus on what we can do to improve early childhood development and education.”

Drawing from the “Talking Transition” initiative, Judge Hidalgo will kick off a community engagementseries next year as the first step towards a larger goal of a meaningful early childhood developmentinitiative in Harris County. Programs that focus on early childhood development have one of the strongestreturns on investment for any type of public program. Children who benefit from initiatives likesubsidized childcare and early education tend to have higher high school graduation rates, fewer arrests,lower rates of substance use, and higher rates of employment as adults.During her remarks, Judge Hidalgo also provided updates on key priorities since her swearing in. Somekey areas of progress include:

  • Sped the delivery of flood bond projects by allocating local funds to jump-start constructioninstead of waiting for federal match dollars.
  • Passed the most stringent flood detention requirements possible so that newdevelopment doesn’t flood people downstream.
  • Fixing our broken cash-bail system. By taking action to settle an expensive, three-year oldlawsuit under which federal courts had deemed the County’s bail system unconstitutional, theCounty eliminated practices that often made wealth the sole basis for how someone accused of amisdemeanor crime was treated.
  • Reformed environmental protection, monitoring, and enforcement. The County has allocatedover $11 million to build a state-of-the-art air monitoring network, increased the size of thepollution control department by over 50%, and added resources for HazMat First Responders.
  • Passed common-sense gun safety measures. The County has taken action to expand programsdesigned to keep weapons away from domestic violence abusers, expedite checks to keep gun dealers from unknowingly selling to people convicted of crimes, and encourage the use of gunlocks to keep guns from the hands of children.
  • Made voting easier by allowing residents to vote anywhere on election day. TheCounty has also expanded early voting hours and locations, including increased access forstudents with early voting polls opened at the University of Houston and Texas SouthernUniversity.
  • Directed the county to create a 3-1-1 system to make county information easier toreceive.
  • Launched Harris Thrives, an initiative to execute a faster, fairer, and smarter flood controlpolicy. As part of this commitment, the County Judge’s office is sharing real-time information onconstruction progress for flood bond projects, including how and where dollars are being spentHarrisThrives.org.
  • Stood up against the Trump administration’s effort to instill fear in our immigrantcommunities. Judge Hidalgo has worked to fight against family separation policies, plannedimmigration raids in the County, and the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.Additionally, the County filed a successful amicus brief against the Federal Government’sproposed “public charge rule” designed to threaten safety net services for immigrants and whichwould also overburden our county safety net systems.

For a more comprehensive list of county initiatives and accomplishments, and a full copy of JudgeHidalgo’s speech as prepared is available on her county website at CountyJudgeHidalgo.com

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