The County Connection
Lina Hidalgo | Harris County Judge

 February 2024

Happy rodeo season, Harris County! We’ve officially kicked off the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, which is our community’s biggest event of the year. There’s so much to celebrate at the rodeo this year, from the 50th anniversary of the Bar-B-Que Cookoff to the new Carnival ride, the Joker 360. (I had a chance to ride the Joker 360 with Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and Rodeo Chairman Pat Mann Phillips, pictured above).

In recognition of the special relationship between Harris County and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, I was so excited to kick off a new tradition for rodeo season, which is something we’re going to do every year starting this year. We just recently celebrated the first annual Harris County Hat Toss Day, where we ‘tossed the hat’ to leaders of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo to welcome them to Harris County’s NRG Park for the largest rodeo event in the world.

The rodeo and the County have always had such a strong partnership. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a co-tenant in the 1.9 million-square-foot NRG Stadium, the largest and most expensive rodeo and football facility ever built. The HLSR has been held at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, since 2003.

All of us know that the rodeo is special, but it’s been such a fixture of living in our community that I think sometimes we forget just how special it is. I think we can all remember the first time we came to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and just being in awe of how impressive it is and how much it brings our community together.

Have a fun and safe rodeo season, Harris County!


Lina Hidalgo

County News

More than 82,500 People Apply for Harris County’s Guaranteed Income Pilot Program

More than 82,500 people applied for Uplift Harris, the guaranteed income pilot program that Harris County launched recently.

According to census data, roughly 1 in 6 people in Harris County live in poverty, more than the national average and more than all other large counties in Texas.  Data from the Kinder Institute shows that 1 in 5 Houston residents would not be able to afford a $400 emergency.

Data also shows that guaranteed income programs like Uplift Harris are some of the most promising anti-poverty measures. With this program, Harris County is joining more than 80 cities and counties across the nation and close to 10 nations around the world that have implemented similar programs. San Antonio and Austin have both implemented similar programs, although we are the first in Texas to do something like this on a county level. In other jurisdictions, data shows that these programs have helped increase employment rates, strengthen families, and improve health outcomes and mental health.

Uplift Harris, which is funded by the American Rescue Plan, will provide $500 monthly cash payments to 1,928 eligible families for 18 months. Recipients will be randomly selected from the 10 highest-need zip codes throughout Harris County, which make a median annual income of $35,000, or based on their participation in Harris County Public Health’s social service program ACCESS Harris.

We’re thrilled to be bringing this innovation to Harris County and look forward to receiving the results of the independent evaluation that will accompany the program.

Judge Hidalgo Calls for Stricter Gun Safety Regulations in Wake of Lakewood Church Shooting

Judge Hidalgo issued the following in response to the shooting at Lakewood Church earlier this month:

“All of us in Harris County are hurting from the shooting at Lakewood Church. Part of our response to what is now just the latest tragedy like this, which is not unique, is looking at how we can prevent an unstable person from accessing a gun. The majority of guns used to commit crimes in Texas are purchased legally. The Lakewood shooter used an AR-15 that she was able to purchase legally, despite her criminal record and a history of violent behavior.

Texas has a history of responding to mass shootings by loosening gun laws rather than strengthening them. This is demonstrably not the way to reduce gun violence. With state laws tying our hands, we can only do so much at the local level. I am calling on our state leaders to do what is beyond obvious and pass stricter regulations on purchasing guns in Texas, including a red flag law.”

Judge Hidalgo Talks Mental Health with the New York Times

Earlier this month, Judge Hidalgo talked about her experience taking mental leave with the New York Times.

Read the full story here: A Rising Democratic Star Shares Her Mental Health Journey

Judge Hidalgo Announces Engagement to Longtime Partner

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo was thrilled to announce her engagement to her longtime partner earlier this month! Join us in sending best wishes to the happy couple.

Judge Hidalgo Shows Love to Harris County on Valentine’s Day by Delivering Meals to Seniors and Pets in Need

Judge Lina Hidalgo showed love to the Harris County community by delivering meals to homebound seniors and their pets this Valentine’s Day through Interfaith Ministries’ Meals on Wheels program, which is funded in part with support from Harris County.

Meals on Wheels needs volunteers to continue their important mission of feeding some of the most vulnerable in the Harris County community. To learn more or sign up to volunteer for Meals on Wheels, please visit

Harris County and City of Houston to Host Seven FIFA World Cup 2026 Game

We learned this month that Harris County will host seven games during the FIFA World Cup 26™ tournament at our very own NRG Stadium! We know that Harris County will be ready to welcome visitors from all around the globe and show everyone what a great place Houston and Harris County is.

For the latest FIFA World Cup 26™ information please visit the FIFA World Cup 26™ website.  Fans can start pre-registering for FIFA World Cup 2026 ticket information Pre-registrations for hospitality package information are also available on

Judge Hidalgo Meets Incoming President of the Greater Houston Partnership

Judge Lina Hidalgo meets with new Greater Houston Partnership CEO Steve Kean on January 24th.

Judge Hidalgo welcomed Steve Kean to his new position as President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. As a major forum for business interests and economic opportunity, the GHP is an important partner for Harris County.

Judge Hidalgo Honors Alief ISD School Board During School Board Appreciation Month

Judge Hidalgo visited the Alief ISD Board of Trustees to thank them for their dedication to Harris County students. School board members do so much to help kids achieve their fullest potential, and they don’t always get the recognition that they should. Happy School Board Appreciation Month, Harris County!

Judge Hidalgo Calls for Swift End to Israel-Hamas War

On February 4th, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a statement condemning the Israel-Hamas War:

“The sheer number of casualties in Gaza, surpassing 27,000 individuals (the vast majority of whom were not Hamas fighters), who were killed by military attacks or who died due to lack of access to resources, demands a consideration of the proportionality of actions. Beyond the horrible deaths, many people in Gaza are starving and without medical care. Permanently eradicating Hamas may be impossible, and it is appropriate to weigh the cost of innocent lives and livelihoods against the potential gains.

I feel that the further inroads the Israeli government might be able to make in continuing to try to cripple Hamas do not warrant the huge number of civilian deaths in Gaza, nor the scale of destruction.

As I unequivocally call for Hamas to immediately release and return all of the remaining hostages and to lay down their arms, I also urge that the Israeli government prioritize the protection of civilian lives, seek a swift end to this war, and try to find a deal for the release of hostages and the cessation of hostilities as soon as possible.”

You can read the full statement here. Harris County offers an emotional support hotline for those affected by the conflict at 1-833-812-2481.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Responds to News of Rape-Related Pregnancies in Texas After Abortion Ban

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo released the following statement on January 24th after the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that Texas saw more than 26,000 rape-related pregnancies during the 16 months after the state passed an abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest:

“When the Texas legislature passed its abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest, Governor Abbott vowed to ‘eliminate all rapists from the streets.’ What our state leaders have done instead is create a public health emergency in communities across Texas, including Harris County. I know firsthand that surviving rape is one of the most traumatic things a person can experience. At its core, rape and sexual assault are about taking away a woman’s agency. Denying that woman the option of an abortion is cruel and only adds more trauma. We have to change this, and it begins with leaders who prioritize women’s wellbeing over politics. For my part, I continue fighting for women in Harris County and in Texas because I know they deserve better.”

While we can only do so much at the local level underneath such restrictive state laws limiting abortion, Harris County is doing what we can to protect women’s right to reproductive health care. Using ARPA funding, we created the Reproductive Health Care Access Fund to help low-income, uninsured folks in some of our most vulnerable zip codes access reproductive health care services. The fund will help build more clinics and fund education and outreach, as well as help provide STI prevention services.

Join a Harris County Board or Commission!

Did you know Harris County has boards and commissions that provide an opportunity for our residents to help guide county governance? You can make your voice heard on various issues, from our Gulf Coast 9-1-1 service to safe schools to natural resources to African-American culture! Join us in forming policies and programs in the areas that affect you most – click here to view a full list of boards and commissions and apply to serve today.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Commissioners Court Meetings

As part of the County Judge’s Office initiative to make local government more transparent and accessible, the county invites you to get involved by viewing Commissioners Court meetings. You can check here to see the meeting schedule, and watch the official close captioned livestream here or on the Judge’s homepage here.

Hazardous Waste Collection Appointments

Do you have unwanted household hazardous items? Properly dispose of them by making an appointment with the Household Hazardous Waste Collections facility at 6900 Hahl Road in Houston. Appointments are available each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and during the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Learn what items are accepted and make an appointment here.

About Judge Hidalgo

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is the head of Harris County’s governing body and Director of the Harris County’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Judge Hidalgo, alongside four County Precinct Commissioners, oversees a budget of approximately $5 billion that funds services and institutions for the third-largest county in the nation, home to nearly 5 million people.
For more information about Harris County and the Office of the County Judge, click here.