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Burnet County posted job notices for a part-time magistrate and a part-time clerk to help meet the requirements of a new state law that goes into effect April 1. Senate Bill 6, which was approved by lawmakers in the second special session of the 87th Texas Legislature last year, adds reporting requirements onto a new software system at all magistrate offices in the state. 

Burnet County Magistrate Tamara Tinney made a second appearance before the Burnet County Commissioners Court at its regular meeting March 22 to address the need. She attended the March 8 meeting with all four of the county’s justices of the peace and Marble Falls Municipal Judge Cheryl Pounds. Together, they explained the new law and how it will impact the county.

Commissioners voted to post both positions but were only able to approve a budget amendment to pay for the part-time magistrate because that was all the agenda listed. A budget amendment for a part-time clerk will be on the agenda for the next meeting on April 12. 

The two part-time positions will meet minimal needs of the new law, Tinney said. 

“With all these new requirements, that’s a lot,” she continued. “We don’t know what it’s going to take in the long run, but we do know that (filing these reports) is going to take a lot longer.” 

Gov. Greg Abbott made the Damon Allen Act a priority after the Texas Department of Public Safety trooper was shot and killed by a man who was pulled over for speeding on Thanksgiving Day 2017. Dabrett Black was a violent criminal who had been released on a $15,000 felony bond because the judge did not have enough background on his past record of violent acts against public officials before he made the decision. 

“The law was written for a good reason,” County Attorney Eddie Arredondo said at the March 8 meeting. “Let’s protect our law enforcement officers. (The bill) wasn’t thought through though. This is going to be a tremendous overload for magistrates.” 

County Judge James Oakley said that, in the long term, the county could qualify for grants to pay for full-time positions for the next year. 

“It’s easier to migrate part time to full time in the budget process or through grants,” he said. “We cannot apply for grants if we’ve already budgeted for (full time).” 

Pay will be about $23,000 a year for the part-time magistrate and $18,000 for the part-time clerk. 

In the meantime, magistrates will have to be trained on a new reporting system that will double the reporting load they already carry. 

suzane@thepicayune.com

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