Open Records Related Related Legislation »

HB 2004 by McCall/Ellis - Relating to a breach of computer security involving sensitive personal information and to the protection of sensitive personal information and certain protected health information. HB 2004 amends Chapter 181, Health and Safety Code, by adding a section that provides that an individual's protected health information, for a covered entity that is a governmental unit, includes any information that reflects that an individual received health care from the covered entity, and is not public information and is not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552 (Public Information), Government Code.

HB 4189 by Rose/Watson - Relating to the conduct of compliance programs by institutions of higher education and to the vaccination of students of institutions of higher education against bacterial meningitis. HB 4189 would allow institutions of higher education that maintain a compliance program to establish procedures to provide private access to a compliance office, maintain anonymity of individuals who make a compliance report or participate in a compliance investigation, and preserve confidentiality of communications. Under provisions of the bill, certain information would be confidential if the related individual does not consent to its disclosure. Information produced that would interfere with an ongoing compliance investigation would be excepted from disclosure under Government Code Chapter 552. The information would be available to a law enforcement agency or prosecutor for official purposes.

SB 671 by Shapleigh/Gallego - Relating to information requested by a member, committee, or agency of the legislature under the public information law. Under Section 552.008, Texas Government Code, the Texas Public Information Act requires governmental bodies, including institutions of higher education, to provide public information, including confidential information, to legislators when the requesting legislator specifies that the information is being requested for legislative purposes. The code also provides that the governmental body may require the requesting legislator to sign a confidentiality agreement with regard to any confidential information released under Section 552.008. The code, however, does not provide for a process by which the requesting legislator can determine whether information potentially made subject to a confidentiality agreement is indeed confidential. As a result, the governmental body could make potentially non-confidential information subject to a confidentiality agreement. SB 671 amends current law relating to information requested by a member, committee, or agency of the legislature under the public information law.

SB 1068 by Wentworth/Gallego - Relating to allowing a governmental body to redact certain personal information under the public information law without the necessity of requesting a decision from the attorney general and allowing information about a public officer or public employee to be withheld if disclosure would pose a substantial risk of physical harm. SB 1068 would amend the Government Code to allow a governmental body (including an institution of higher education) to redact certain personal information under the public information law without requesting a decision from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The amended sections of the bill also would require governmental bodies that withhold or redact information without an OAG opinion to provide certain information to the requestor about the withholding or redacting of the information. The requestor would have the right to request a review and opinion from the OAG before being required to sue for a writ of mandamus or seek a declaratory judgment. The OAG would be required to develop informational handouts and instruction forms, and to promptly render (not later than 45 business days of a request) and deliver a written decision requested under the amended Sections. The bill would add Section 552.151 to the Government Code to allow a governmental body to exemption information about a employee or officer of the governmental body to be excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021, Availability of Public Information, if, under the specific circumstances pertaining to the employee or officer, the disclosure of the information would subject the employee or officer to a substantial threat to physical harm.

SB 1182 by Wentworth/Ortiz - Relating to public information and open government. SB 1182 exempts from public disclosure information that could reasonably be expected to compromise the safety of an employee or official if it were released. To have the information withheld, the individual must apply in writing, describing the information involved and the specific circumstances that make its release dangerous. The agency's (including an institution of higher education) Public Information Officer would request a decision from the OAG regarding withholding the information. This portion of the bill would expire September 1, 2013.

SB 1182 amends the Texas Public Information Code, under the request for public information provisions, by adding a section which exempts information pertaining to certain biological agents and toxins, identified in federal law, from categories of publicly accessible information. Excepted information regarding select biological and toxic agent agents includes their specific location within an approved facility, personal identifying information of an individual whose name appears in documentation relating to the chain of custody, and the identity of authorized individuals. The bill would not allow exceptions from disclosure of the identity of the select agents present at a facility, the identity of an individual faculty member or employee whose name appears on published research, and otherwise public information relating to contracts of a governmental body. SB 1182 would also require that information relating to the identity of out of state residents be subject to disclosure only to the extent the information would be subject to disclosure under the laws of the state of which the person is a resident.

SB 1182 would require a governmental body to provide a copy of written arguments that were submitted to the OAG to a requestor within 15 business days. Currently, a governmental body that requests an open records decision from the OAG under section 552.301(a) must submit written arguments only to the OAG concerning the applicability of exceptions in the PIA within 15 business days of receiving the request for information.

SB 1182 would clarify that the only suit a governmental body may file when trying to withhold information under the PIA is a suit against the OAG that seeks declaratory relief (rather than a mandamus action) from compliance with an open records decision of the OAG. Additionally, a governmental body wishing to preserve affirmative defenses for its public information officer found in section 552.353(b)(3) must file suit within the deadlines provided by that section. The bill would clarify certain sections of the PIA relating to litigation between the OAG and governmental bodies.

The bill would apply to requests for information made before, on, or after the relevant provisions of the bill. Except as otherwise provided by the bill, it would take effect September 1, 2009.

SB 1629 by Wentworth/Rose - Relating to the persons exempted from the required prepayment of the personnel costs incurred by a governmental body in responding to requests from a requestor under the public information law that require large amounts of personnel time. The bill would amend the Government Code to add newspapers of general circulation that are published on the Internet and magazines that are either published at least once a week or are on the Internet to the list of entities that may not be charged for public information requests that require large amounts of employee or personnel time. Requestors of the information would have to be individuals for whom a substantial portion of their livelihood or financial gain comes from gathering news or information and who seeks the information for a radio or television station, newspaper, magazine, or other accepted form of information dispensation.