Legal Related »

HB 905 by Delisi/Williams - Relating to the powers and duties of the state auditor in connection with state contracts. HB 905 requires entities subject to an audit by the State Auditor to provide requested information to the state auditor and access to any information the state auditor considers relevant to the investigation or audit. The bill also clarifies that certain not-for-profit corporations or state agencies can contract with a private auditor only if that authority is delegated to the corporation or agency by the state auditor.

HB 1940 by Ritter/Wentworth - Relating to alternative dispute resolution of certain contract claims against the state. HB 1940 amends statutory provisions relating to alternative dispute resolution for contract claims against the state. The bill allows contractors to recover additional damages and expenses incurred as a result of actions by the state, and clarifies that contractors used by the state may assert a counterclaim or a right of offset. In addition, HB 1940 shortens the timeframes for negotiations, mediation, and counterclaims, amends the amount the state must pay for valid claims, and allows contested case decisions to be appealed when there has been an abuse of discretion.

HB 2511 by Denny/Harris - Relating to financial disclosure by appointed state officers after leaving office. HB 2511 clarifies that appointed officers are not required to file financial statements after the effective date of a resignation or after an agency is abolished or its functions are transferred to another agency.

HB 2932 by Delisi/Zaffirini - Relating to requiring state agency purchasing personnel to disclose certain family relationships with business entities receiving certain state agency contracts. HB 2932 requires state employees to disclose family relationships involving vendors. Legislation defines "major stockholder" and "purchasing personnel”; requires each of the state agency's purchasing personnel working on a contract to disclose certain information in writing, before a state agency can award a major contract for the purchase of goods or services to a business entity; and requires the state auditor to develop a form for use in reporting a relationship.

HB 2988 by Nixon/Ellis – Relating to waiver of sovereign immunity. HB 2988 amends Sec. 311.034, Texas Government Code, to specify that statutory prerequisites to file suit against a governmental entity are jurisdictional. This is considered a positive for state agencies because it makes it easier to get a case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction if a plaintiff fails to provide proper notice.

SB 121 by Duncan/Gattis – Relating to a requestor’s right of access to investment information. SB 121 requires governmental bodies to disclose information relating to investments of public monies, including the name of any fund in which the monies of the governmental entity are invested, the year the fund was created, the dollar amount invested in the fund, and the return on investment. The bill also requires the disclosure of board members' possible conflicts of interest and the disclosure of the fee expenses assessed by the fund.

SB 148 by Wentworth/Swinford - Relating to the exception from required public disclosure of a photograph of a peace officer. SB 148 provides that a photograph that depicts the image of a peace officer is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 (requiring public information be made available to the public) under certain circumstances, unless the officer is a party in a civil service hearing, rather than a party in a fire or police civil service hearing. Deletes the provision that a photograph that depicts the image of a security officer (hired by a private institution of higher education) commissioned under Section 51.212, Education Code, is exempt from the requirements of Section 552.021 under certain circumstances.

SB 286 by Wentworth/Baxter – Relating to requiring public officials to receive training in the requirements of the open meetings and public information laws. SB 286 adds an educational requirement to the existing Open Meetings Act and Public Information Act for elected and appointed officials in Texas. It requires officials to take a course within a certain time of taking the oath or assuming official duties, and requires a course to be taken every two years. This bill requires the Attorney General to make at least one training course available on videotape or a comparable medium at no cost, and clarifies that an official who is a member of more than one governmental body satisfies the education requirement by taking one course of training. SB 286 provides that the of completion of the course is admissible as evidence, but does not constitute prima facie evidence of a knowing violation of the law. The bill ensures that an action taken by an official who has not completed the training is not void or voidable. Effective 1/01/06

SB 452 by Wentworth/Gattis - Relating to transferring the duties of the Texas Building and Procurement Commission under the public information law to the Attorney General. SB 452 transfers all of the duties of the Commission pursuant to Chapter 552, Government Code, to the Office of the Attorney General, in order to streamline the duties regarding public information into one agency.

SB 511 by Deuell/Rose - Relating to public testimony at regular meetings of the governing board of a general academic teaching institution. SB 511 requires the governing board of each general academic teaching institution or of a university system that includes one or more component general academic teaching institutions to adopt a policy that allows the public to present, for a reasonable amount of time and for any item on the agenda, both written and oral testimony at a regular meeting of the board. The bill requires the governing board to consider the public testimony presented to the board on an issue before making a decision on the issue. The Act requires each affected governing board to adopt its policy relating to this Act by October 1, 2005.

SB 623 by Hinojosa/Pena - Relating to the authorized charges for providing a copy of public information requested under the public information law. Previously, Texas law did not require a person requesting open records information to pay the required fee before the request is processed. A governmental entity is required to obtain an open records decision from the attorney general in order to protect confidential information, once the information has been requested, regardless of whether the required fee has been paid. SB 263 clarifies that a request for a copy of public information is considered to have been received by a governmental body on the date the governmental body receives the deposit or bond for payment if the governmental body's officer for public information or the officer's agent requires a deposit or bond. Legislation also stipulates that a requestor who fails to make a deposit or post a required bond before the 10th day after the date the deposit or bond is required is considered to have withdrawn the request for the copy of the public information.

SB 690 by Zaffirini/Swinford - Relating to the requirement to post meetings of a governmental body under the open meetings law in certain circumstances. SB 690 codifies several attorney general opinions to allow a governmental body to recess to the following regular business day without having to post notification of the meeting if the action is done in good faith. An additional provision considers a catastrophic event that prevents the governmental body from convening an open meeting that was properly posted. In such an event, the governmental body may convene in a convenient location within 72 hours.

SB 727 by Wentworth/Gattis - Relating to the public information law. SB 727 amends provisions of the Public Information Act based on input from the Open Records Steering Committee. The bill strikes references to the "General Services Commission," replacing them with the "attorney general," and amends provisions relating to state agencies' reporting of their costs to provide copies of public information. SB 727 provides that a request for information is considered withdrawn if the requestor does not examine the information requested within a specified time and does not request additional time to make the examination. SB 727 requires a governmental body that asks for an attorney general opinion regarding a request for information to provide the requestor with a copy of the written comments provided to the attorney general. The bill also requires any person who submits written comments to the attorney general regarding a request for information to provide a copy of the written comments to the requestor and to the governmental body involved.

SB 1224 by Duncan/Rose - Relating to a landowner's liability for injuries incurred during certain recreational activities. SB 1224 expands coverage of limited liability for outdoor recreational activities to include all governmental units. It expands coverage of the statute for recreational activities to include bicycling, mountain biking, disc golf, and dog walking activities. Legislation provides that if a person enters premises owned, operated, or maintained by a governmental unit and engages in recreation on those premises, the governmental unit does not owe to the person a greater degree of care than is owed to a trespasser on the premises.

SB 1485 by Williams/Wong - Relating to providing that the social security number of a living person is excepted from required disclosure under the public information law and may be redacted without the necessity of requesting a decision from the attorney general. SB 1485 reconciles two statutes with regard to social security numbers by exempting them from the Public Information Act. SB 1485 provides that the social security number of a living person is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021, Government Code. SB 1485 also allows a governmental body to redact the social security number of a living person from any information the governmental body discloses without the necessity of requesting a decision from the attorney general.