Will Radack and Cagle break quorum to stop a tax rate hike?

We’ll find out today.

Harris County Commissioners Court has scheduled a vote Tuesday to hike property taxes by 8 percent, though the two Republican members can thwart the plan by simply skipping the vote.

A quirk in the Texas Government Code requires a quorum of four court members, rather than the regular three, to vote on a tax increase. The rule affords Republican commissioners Steve Radack and Jack Cagle rare power, as they repeatedly have lost votes to their three Democratic colleagues this year.

The pair said they would not reveal their intentions ahead of the meeting.

First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard said Radack and Cagle could attend the rest of Tuesday’s court meeting and leave the room when County Judge Lina Hidalgo decides to consider the tax increase.

“They can be present for part of the meeting and then leave,” Soard said. “That’s their option.”

Soard said that unlike the governor, Hidalgo has no power to compel any member to be present for a vote.


The Democrats on the Harris County Commissioners Court proposed a property tax increase of 2.26 cents per $100 of assessed value, which the county budget office estimates would add $37.65 to the tax bill on a $230,000 home in the first year. The county would collect more than $200 million in additional revenue.

Garcia said the prospect of Republicans skipping the vote was “disappointing but not surprising.”

“It is their responsibility to come to court and be a part of the process, even if they don’t agree with it,” he said in a statement.

The relationships between court members have been fraught at times since Democrats took control in January. Divided votes have become the norm, and commissioners sometimes snipe at each other from the dais.

See here for the background. The main thing I would add here is that the fraught-ness and the sniping and the divided votes are not because of some generic notion of “politics”, or incivility, or even partisanship, as former Judge Robert Eckels says. It’s about a sincere and significant difference in values and priorities. Which, to be fair to Eckels, is reflected in the differences between the two parties. The Republicans had their way for decades, and then the voters voted for change. That’s how this is supposed to work, minus the anti-majoritarian avoidance techniques. We’ll see what these two do.

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9 Responses to Will Radack and Cagle break quorum to stop a tax rate hike?

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Just out of curiosity, Kuff, did you support the Democrat legislators fleeing to Oklahoma a few years back? This would seem to be the same dilemma faced by the (R) Harris county folks today.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    They did it! They voted with their feet! No tax hike for you, Harris County!


  3. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    So the new question is this… Which GOP Commissioner gets redistricted out of a seat?

  4. brad says:


    “Same delimma…”?

    Nice try to equate the TX Dems showing up the TX Repubs blatant politically motivated gerrymander back in the early 2000s to the Dem commissioners preparing for the near-term county $ revenue shortfall due to the Republican legislation.

  5. Jennifer says:

    All we are doing is giving them a platform!!!!!!!!!!!!! We finally take over Harris County then immediately want to increase taxes. We better redistrict so we have 3 Dem commissioners because we are probably going to lose the judge spot in 2022.

  6. Manny says:

    Jennifer since when is it not okay to increase taxes for the public welfare. The Republicans/Koch have been planting that seed since the early 1990s. They are also anti union. Look where that has brought us, the vast majority of Americans are worse off than they were 20,30,40 years ago. My father supported his family with one income. How many one working member of the family exists now.

    GM workers are out on strike, because they think that the sacrifices they made when GM was going under should be rewarded now that GM had a 30 billion dollar profit last year.

    It will be a long time before a Republican wins a county wide seat again here in Harris County. Trump will lose next year, but he won’t be dead, at least I hope not because, I want him to keep tweeting his hate and reminding people of what the Republicans stand for.

  7. brad says:


    The Dems do not have a choice based on Texas law. The Repubs can prevent a quorum at any time and they can give the appearance of holding firm on taxes when all they are doing is irresponsibly preventing the capturing of necessary tax revenue for the county’s budget needs.

    Repubs will not win judgeship in 2022. Especially if they prevent the raising of necessary tax revenue and there are a couple years of budget shortfall and Repubs start wondering why county services has declined.

  8. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Jennifer it wont matter. Theyre just going to cram all the Republicans into one district in 2021. It will probably be the district not up in 2022 so that the electorate in 2022 in Harris County will be 80 percent Democrat.

    No Republican is beating any Democrat county wide in 2020. Not. Going. To. Happen. Trump loses by 20 percent or more. And what Republican is going to run for County Judge? Woodfill? Dopukil? Hotze?

    This wasnt a tax bill but a flood bill. Thats how it will be positioned.

  9. Pingback: Cagle and Radack break quorum – Off the Kuff

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