This website provides a variety of topics related to a CHC's organizational structure. This page is dedicated to a discussion of bylaws and special considerations for CHCs when crafting bylaw language.
We strongly suggest that CHCs and county officials read this memo from attorney, David B. Brooks, clarifying frequently asked questions about CHCs, including the validity of bylaws and ultimate oversight of the CHC.
CHC Bylaw Basics
Bylaws are not discussed in Texas Local Government Code, Chapter 318--the statute that enables county commissioners courts to establish CHCs. Verify with your county judge, auditor, and attorney that bylaws are appropriate for your CHC prior to crafting or revising organizational bylaws. If allowed, our agency recommends that you reference bylaws of CHCs in your region or in counties with demographics and/or historic resources similiar to yours.
While the CHC statutes provide an overview of CHC work, most CHC prefer to establish a set of rules (bylaws) for its own regulation. In addition to complying with county policies, bylaws should cover the following aspects of the CHC:
- Name of county
- Purpose or objectives of CHC
- Membership qualifications and types (voting, advisory, ex-officio)
- Meetings (how often and attendance requirements)
- Officers and their duties (if county approves installation of officers)
- Method of selecting officers
- Suggested committees and the purpose of each committee
- Method of reporting activities to county, partners, and THC
- Parliamentary procedures
- Method of amending bylaws
Bylaws should be tailored to fit your CHC structure and to address county needs associated with the preservation of historic and cultural resources. Once a CHC has crafted bylaw language, the county auditor and attorney should review the draft to ensure that language aligns with county policies rather than containing governance clauses and procedures typically associated with nonprofit organizations.
Our agency does not provide template bylaws--our staff does not have the training required to provide expertise in bylaws. However, upon request, we share copies of CHC bylaws from our files through open records requests. Travis CHC and Milam CHC (above and below images) receive Distinguished Service Awards from county judges.
CHC Bylaw Considerations
- Work with the county attorney and county auditor to ensure that bylaw language is appropriate and complies with laws, rules, policies, etc. that affect county government.
- Include county officials in conversations that discuss draft language for bylaws; submit drafts to county judge and commissioners for comment prior to submitting the final document to county commissioners court for ratification.
- Use language that is specific enough to expedite business but general enough to be applied practically and enforced--bylaws are of little use if language will not or cannot be enforced.
- Include an amendment process in the bylaws to outline procedure for amending bylaws.
- Remember that a CHC is a political subdivision and part of county government; a CHC is NOT a nonprofit in the traditional use as a society, club or association would be viewed. CHC bylaws should not reflect a nonprofit sensibility but one appropriate for county government oversight.
- If your CHC has partners with official ties to the CHC––county-run museum or “Friends” group––bylaws should include a clause that addresses/clarifies the relationship and any responsibilities that exist between the organizations or boundaries concerning area of work/expertise.
- Review bylaws with CHC appointees on an annual or biannual basis to ensure that appointees understand expectations concerning organizational business.
- Keep in mind that CHC bylaws cannot usurp law, e.g., bylaws cannot define a quorum or enable appointees to vote other appointees in or out of the CHC.
--Quorum is defined as a majority of a governmental body––it is our understanding that governmental body with respect to a CHC would refer to all appointed individuals. If one is appointed, it is assumed that the individual has accepted the responsibilities required to fulfill the appointment, the primary being to attend meetings and participate in decision-making. The statutes do not mention "voting," therefore, does not distinguish between voting and non-voting appointees as some CHCs choose to allow.
--County commissioners courts appoint or remove individuals––CHCs do not appoint or dismiss appointees. However, some CHCs, after documenting inactivity or conflicts of interest, may meet with the county judge to discuss ongoing issues and how those issues affect an appointee’s willingness or ability to serve on the CHC. Many CHCs include an attendance clause into bylaws that defines expectations with regard to appointee participation, along with a process by which inactivity is addressed (official notification, etc.)
CHC statute information located here.
CHC Organizational Structure webpage here.
Information for other CHC organizational topics located here.