Educating members through discussions about key legal issues and Pool services.

Listen. Learn.

The Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool is proud to produce the Local Officials: Stronger, Together Podcast Series to help local officials (and managers and staff) understand key operational and legal concepts and the services the Pool provides. After arming Members with that information, each 15-minute episode will give easy action items to help keep your citizens, employees, volunteers, and property safe, all while saving public dollars.

Your host is Scott Houston, the Pool’s Intergovernmental Relations Manager. Scott served the Texas Municipal League for over 20 years, the last half as general counsel. He has served as an adjunct professor, been published in the Texas Tech Administrative Law Journal, and has received awards from the American Bar Association, Texas Bar, and International Municipal Lawyers Association. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in political science and — after studying law in Austria and Argentina — received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law.

The Pool provides financial strength and stability through a partnership with over 2,800 local governments, providing workers’ compensation coverage to over 165,000 public servants, and protecting more than $48 billion in property. The collective success makes Members Stronger, Together, demonstrated through the Pool’s core values:

  • Integrity: Serving with honesty, integrity, and professionalism.
  • Public Service: Serving the public good – for the benefit of local governments and their tax-paying citizens.
  • Fiscal Responsibility: Responsibly managing our Members’ pooled funds for the protection of their financial stability.
  • Operational Excellence: Delivering excellent Member service in all components of risk financing and loss prevention services.
TML Risk Pool logo blue
Listen Now

Episode 24

“2023 Rerates, the State of the Pool, and More"

Posted June 2, 2023

In this special episode, Scott interviews Pool Executive Director Jeff Thompson about the major rate drivers and their effect on your 2023 rerates, the state of the Pool, and more. 

Further Information:
A Message from the TML Risk Pool: TML Risk Pool Board of Trustees Adopts 2023-2024 Rates

Mike Rains
Listen Now

Episode 23

“An Interview with Risk Pool Assistant Director Mike Rains: Lessons Learned from 37 Years”

Posted March 3, 2023

In this episode, Scott interviews Mike Rains. Mike is retiring after 37 years of service to the Pool and its Members. Listen to Mike’s insights about the Pool’s growth over his almost four-decade tenure.

How Cities Work
Listen Now

Episode 22

Texas Town & City Magazine: How Cities Work”

Posted February 3, 2023

Explains: (1) that the Texas Municipal League prepares an outstanding edition of Texas Town and City Magazine in January of legislative years called “How Cities Work;” and (2) reviews ways a city official can use the magazine to educate legislators and others.

Further information:
Texas Town & City Magazine (January 2023 Edition)

Mary M Dennis Head Shot 940x788
Listen Now

Episode 21

“An Interview with Board of Trustees
Chair Mary M. Dennis”

Posted November 11, 2022

In this episode, you’ll get to know City of Live Oak Mayor Mary M. Dennis, who was recently chosen to lead to Pool’s Board of Trustees. Scott and/or Mary would love to come speak at your event about the benefits of Pool Membership.


Pocast 20 thumbnail 10-20-22
Listen Now

Episode 20

“Crimes and Coverage”

Posted October 21, 2022

Explains: (1) several criminal offenses for which a local official can be indicted; (2) criminal offenses that can be perpetrated against a local government; and (3) various crime coverages offered by the Pool.

Further information:

Understanding Your Liability as a City Official: A Primer
Legal Q&A: Bribery and Prohibited Gifts

TML Podcast 19 graphic 940x768 9-1-22
Listen Now

Episode 19

“Member Service Managers: Your Gateway to the Pool”

Posted September 2, 2022

In this episode, special guest host Tamara Chafin, the Risk Pool’s Communications Officer, explains: (1) the role a Member Services Manager (MSM), plays at the Pool; and (2) interviews 2 of our MSMs: Linda Morvant and Marc Rodriguez.

Further information:

The Portal

Podcast Episode 18
Listen Now

Episode 18

“The Texas Public Information Act: The Information Business”

Posted August 19, 2022

In this episode, Scott: (1) explains the basics of the Public Information Act; and (2) interviews three city secretaries and an open government analyst for practical tips and advice.

Further information:
Texas Attorney General’s Public Information Act Handbook
Texas Attorney General’s Mandatory Public Information Act Training
Texas Municipal League Public Information Act Resources
Texas Attorney General’s Charges for Public information Resources


mid-section-young-man-using-smartphone-with-laptop-digital-tablet-coffee-mug-kitchen-counter 940x768
Listen Now

Episode 17

“Temporary Custodians — Public Information on Private Devices and Accounts”

Posted June 21, 2022

Explains: (1) that work-related local government information held on private devices or in private accounts is public information; and (2) that a local government official or employee is a “temporary custodian” responsible for maintaining that information according to certain procedures.

Further information:
Temporary Custodian Q&A 
Attorney General Public Information Act Handbook Excerpts
Texas State Library and Archives Commission Records Retention Website


Harvey_2017-08-24_1707Z 940x768
Listen Now

Episode 16

“Are You Prepared: Before, During and After the Storm”

Posted June 16, 2022

Explains: (1) the most important aspect of preparing for and recovering from damage caused by a hurricane; and (2) links below to a video of a comprehensive workshop presentation on the subject.

Further information:
Are You Prepared: Before, During and After the Storm Workshop Recording
Are You Prepared: Before, During and After the Storm PowerPoint Presentation
Listen Now

Episode 15

“An Interview with Executive Director Jeff Thompson”

Posted June 24, 2022

In this episode, Scott interviews Jeff Thompson (Risk Pool Executive Director) to get Jeff’s thoughts on the state of the Pool, rerates, and more.

Further Information:
A Message from the TML Risk Pool: Increasing 2022–2023 Member Rates and Contributions

Listen Now

Episode 14

“Special Edition: My Three Most Compelling Episodes”

Posted April 12, 2022

In this episode, you’ll hear: (1) about the STP Series and how it can help elected officials and other local officials and employees keep their citizens, employees, volunteers, and property safe, all while saving public dollars; (2) from a podcast fan and the Pool’s Executive Director about the benefits of the series; and (3) segments from three special episodes.

Further information:
TML Risk Pool "Texans Helping Texans" Video


Pocast 13 thumbnail 940x788
Listen Now

Episode 13

“Contractual Risk Transfer"

Posted March 4, 2022

Explains: (1) the importance of shifting risk to the appropriate parties to a contract; and (2) the essential provisions that should be included in any major or high-exposure contract.

Further information:
TML Risk Pool’s Risk Transfer and Contract Strategies
Thomson Reuters (Westlaw): Contract Drafting or Review for Local Governments
Public Risk management Association Insurance Requirements in Contracts: Tips for Effectively Transferring Risk Podcast


jason-goodman-Oalh2MojUuk-unsplash 940x788
Listen Now

Episode 12 REDUX

“Risk Pool Human Resources Training: Top Three Human Resources Challenges and Opportunities"

Updated and Reposted December 2, 2022

Explains: (1) the three most common human resources challenges and opportunities for local government employees; (2) training provided by the Pool to address behaviors that cause unhealthy conflict in the workplace.

Further information:
Risk Pool Loss Prevention Department (Training and More)
TML Risk Pool’s “Call Before You Fire Program”
Employment Law Manual for Texas Cities
Texas Municipal Human Resources Association
State Law Sexual Harassment Update


summer-country-road ret 940x788
Listen Now

Episode 11

“Are You R.O.A.D. Ready?"

Posted January 5, 2022

R.O.A.D. Ready is a Risk Pool program designed to save lives, prevent injuries, and protect property by raising Member awareness of dangers on and near roadways.  The Pool will provide participating Members with: (1) specifically designed resources and training to mitigate roadway risks; and (2) promotional materials to show they are R.O.A.D. Ready.
The Pool launched the program in January 2022 and has designated each successive January as R.O.A.D. Ready month. To participate, a Member should: (1) make a commitment to becoming R.O.A.D. Ready by providing internal roadway safety training or using the Pool’s resources to do so; and (2) participating in national roadway, vehicle, or work zone programs.
In this episode, you’ll hear more about why this initiative came about and why it’s so important.

Further information:
R.O.A.D. Ready home page


courtney-wentz-b3BaJTIWiYk-unsplash 940x768
Listen Now

Episode 10c

“First Responder Workers’ Compensation Benefits — The Facts”

Posted July 28, 2022

Mentions a recent Texas Observer assertion that the Pool mistreated three first responders and explains that: (1) the Pool never tries to claw back benefits already received in a benefits determination appeal; (2) the workers’ compensation beneficiary determination process can seem calloused; and (3) appeal lawsuits are about determining who is the appropriate beneficiary.

Further information:
First Responder Workers’ Compensation Beneficiaries: The Facts

Podcast episode 10b thumbnail 940x788 11-9-21
Listen Now

Episode 10b

“Workers' Compensation: First Responder Disease Presumption”

Posted November 9, 2021

Listen to "Workers' Compensation: First Responder Disease Presumption," the second part of the tenth episode in the TML Risk Pool’s STP Series. 
The TML Risk Pool provides workers’ compensation coverage for thousands of first responders. State law provides a special workers’ comp benefit to those employees, known as the disease presumption law. Simply put, the law “presumes” that first responders contracted certain diseases on the job for purposes of workers’ comp benefits. In this episode, you’ll hear about the presumption, how it’s administered, and how the Pool partners with Members to help guide them through the complex process.

Further information:
Texas Department of Insurance - Division of Workers’ Compensation First Responder FAQ
Texas Government Code Chapter 607

workers comp
Listen Now

Episode 10a

“Workers' Comp: Taking Care of Your Employees"

Posted October 14, 2021

The TML Risk Pool provides workers’ compensation coverage for more than 200,000 local government employees, and receives around 10,000 claims per year. The Workers’ Compensation Department is the largest of all the Pool’s departments, largely because the workers compensation process is highly-regulated by the Workers’ Compensation Division of the Texas Department of Insurance. In this episode, you’ll hear from key Pool staff about the process and how it’s administered, most importantly how we partner with Members to help guide them through the complex process.

Further information:
Texas Political Subdivision Workers’ Compensation Alliance
Texas Department of Insurance - Division of Workers’ Compensation
Division of Worker’s Compensation – Performance-Based Oversight Results
Workers’ Compensation At-a-Glance TIPS
Presentation: Navigating the Workers’ Compensation Process

Lubbock Firefighter Matt Dawson Receiving Risk Pool Worker’s Compensation Benefits:
Everything Lubbock
Listen Now

Episode 9a

“Cyber Bytes #1 – Hank’s Hacks!”

Posted March 3, 2023

In this episode, Scott introduces the first of several short cyber security training videos. This isn’t some boring webinar. No way. Instead, join the Risk Pool Cyber Guy, Ryan Burns – and his buddy Hacker Hank – as they discuss “Hank’s Hacks,” which are the most common ways a hacker tricks local government employees into sending money, downloading ransomware, and more. This video is hilarious!  You can listen in traditional podcast format, but you’ll be missing out if you don’t watch the nine-minute YouTube video version linked next to this episode! If you can identify which pool employee plays Hacker Hank, email Scott at for the chance to win a prize!


Untitled design-41
Listen Now

Episode 9 Redux

"Cybersecurity: Are You Prepared?"

Updated and Reposted May 5, 2023

Local governments, in addition to the nuts-and-bolts services they provide, are actually just as much in the business of providing and maintaining information, and local officials should recognize that they should work at it just as hard at protecting that information as they do providing law enforcement and maintaining streets and water lines.

You’ve got to think of cybersecurity as part of your daily work serving and protecting your residents.  In today’s world, you just can’t afford to be unprepared – that’s true whether your population is 250,000 or 250.

In this episode, you’ll hear why local governments are frequently targeted by cyber-criminals, how the Risk Pool can help you avoid trouble on the front end, and that we’ve got your back should you get hacked.

Further information:
TML Risk Pool’s Cyber-Liability Home Page
TML Risk Pool’s State-Mandated Cyber-Security Training
Will Trevino’s Cybersecurity Blog
CPM Applied Research: Steps in Building a Successful Cybersecurity Protocol

Texas City Attorneys Association: Cyber Security is a Risky Business:
PowerPoint Presentation
Cyber-Breach Checklist


Untitled design-39
Listen Now

Episode 8

“First Responders and COVID-19 Vaccines"

Posted August 19, 2021

Provides COVID-19 statistics and the story of Roger Dean – as told by his surviving family.  Roger was  a healthy 31-year-old Seguin firefighter who passed away after a months-long battle with COVID.


Episode 7 - Call Before you Fire
Listen Now

Episode 7

"Disciplining and Terminating Employees:  Liability and the Pool’s ‘Call Before You Fire’ Hotline"

Posted July 28, 2021

Explains: (1) that you may be liable for improper employment actions; and (2) the availability to speak with one of the Pool’s attorneys prior to taking action.

Further information:
TML Risk Pool’s “Call Before You Fire Program”
Employment Law Manual for Texas Cities 
Texas Municipal Human Resources Association
Ask a Texas Municipal League Attorney 


Podcast episode 6 thumbnail 635x474 6-24-21
Listen Now

Episode 6

“The storm has passed, now what? The Pool's SynergyNDS Turnkey Recovery Program"

Recorded May 19, 2021

Explains: (1) the legalities of purchasing and rebuilding requirements after a hurricane or other disaster; and (2) how the Pool uses Synergy to assist Member recovery.

Further information:
SynergyNDS Flyer
Synergy/TML Risk Pool Hurricane Harvey Recovery Video
Synergy’s TML IRP Website
TML Emergency Management Resources
TDEM Preparedness

TML - Vincible
Listen Now

Episode 5

“Keep Your Police Officers Safe: TPCA’s Vincible Program”
Recorded in May 2021

Explains the officer safety and risk management benefits when a Member’s law enforcement agency used the Vincible Training Program.

Further information:
Vincible Promotional Video
Vincible Website
Texas Police Chiefs Association

VINCIBLE: Removing the “In” in “Us” by Chief Stan Standridge

Example Roll Call Trainings:

Storm clouds in summer Ragged wind-driven dark clouds move in quickly to obscure large white billows before sunset, for meteorological themes of instability and rapid change
Listen Now

Episode 4

“The storm has passed, now what? The Pool’s BEST Roofing and Enhanced Property Damage Recovery Programs”
Recorded May, 13, 2021

Explains how the Pool uses the BEST Roofing Program (Scott Franklin and 4T Partnership) to assist Member recovery.

Further Information:

Texas Municipal Procurement Made Easy
Texas Municipal Procurement Cheat Sheet
TML Risk Pool Building Envelope Systems Team (BEST) Roofing Program Flyer
City of Del Rio Article


TML - Sewer Drain
Listen Now

Episode 3 REDUX

“Sewage Backups: Know Before You Go”

Updated and reposted December 22, 2022

Explains: (1) the law related to a local government’s liability for raw sewage backups into customers’ homes or businesses; and (2) the Pool’s opt-out and supplemental sewage backup coverage. 

Further information:
Sewage Backups:  Know Before You Go (Q&A)
Sewage Backups:  Know Before You Go (Cheat Sheet)

Listen Now

Episode 2b

“Local Governments and Firearms: Avoiding a Jam”
Posted July 8, 2021

The information in this episode becomes effective on September 1, 2021. In this episode, we talk about whether local governments can prohibit — or allow — employees to actually carry a gun while at work, and how that can affect your workplace and your risk of a lawsuit.

Further information:
Local Governments and Firearms:  Avoiding a Jam V4 (Comprehensive Paper in Q&A Format)
Local Governments and Firearms:  Avoiding a Jam V4 (Cheat Sheet)

Listen Now

Episode 2a 

“Local Governments and Firearms: Avoiding a Jam”
Posted July 9, 2021

The information in this episode becomes effective on September 1, 2021. Explains the authority of a local government to prohibit or allow employees with a license to carry a handgun at work, the potential liability for doing so, and basics of the Pool’s coverage.

Further information:
Local Governments and Firearms:  Avoiding a Jam V4 (Comprehensive Paper in Q&A Format)
Local Governments and Firearms:  Avoiding a Jam V4 (Cheat Sheet)
November 2021 Update:  Licensed Carry in Meetings


Listen Now

Episode 1

“What’s the City Officials: Stronger, Together Podcast Series and Why I Should be Listening?”
Posted April 23, 2021

Explains: (1) why the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool was started and the services it provides; and (2) the STP Series and how it can help elected officials keep their citizens, employees, volunteers, and property safe, all while saving public dollars.

City Officials and Attorneys, did you know?

City councilmembers can earn up to 19 Texas Municipal League Institute CEUs for listening to the podcasts. To receive CEUs for a particular episode, an elected official must provide a description of the episode, which must be educational in nature, pertain to municipal leadership, and should enhance your service as an elected official, for TML approval. 

Attorneys who listen to podcasts may be eligible for up to three hours of self-study CLE credit. Please refer to the State Bar CLE compliance rules for more information.


Sign Up For Podcast News

Questions or Comments?

Visit, call 512-791-4158, or email