Open Meetings Act Handbook











Appendix A: Text of the Texas Open Meetings Act



Appendix B: Index of Cases



I. Background and Overview


A. Open Meetings Act


The Open Meetings Act(1) (the "act") provides that meetings of governmental bodies must be open to the public, except for expressly authorized executive sessions,(2) and that the public must be given notice of the time, place, and subject matter of meetings of governmental bodies. It does not, however, set out all procedures applicable to meetings of governmental bodies. Issues of agenda preparation, for example, are addressed by other sources of law.(3) Any additional procedures that a governmental body adopts for the conduct of its meetings must be consistent with the Open Meetings Act.(4)


B. Common-Law Background and Adoption of Open Meetings Act

Prior to the adoption of the Open Meetings Act, meetings of governmental entities were subject to common-law rules designed to require the individual members to function as a body. These rules, as well as the provisions of the Open Meetings Act, apply to meetings of governmental bodies.(5)

Under the common law, a governmental body must act as a body at a meeting of which all members have notice.(6) In Webster v. Texas & Pacific Motor Transport Co.,(7) the Texas Supreme Court held that the three-member Railroad Commission, acting as such, and not the individual commissioners, has the authority to grant or refuse applications for permits to operate as common carriers. The court stated as follows:

The purpose of this rule is to give each member of the body an opportunity to state his or her views to associate board members and to give them the benefit of his or her wisdom so that the decision will be the composite judgment of the body as a whole. A board member may not delegate the authority to deliberate or vote to another person, in the absence of express statutory authority to do so.(9)

The Open Meetings Act was adopted in 1967 and codified as article 6252-17 of the Revised Civil Statutes. It has been amended many times since then. In 1993, the act was codified without substantive change as chapter 551 of the Government Code.


C. Quorum

The authority delegated to a governmental body may be exercised only at a meeting of a quorum of its members. A provision of the Code Construction Act, chapter 311 of the Government Code, states as follows:

The Open Meetings Act defines "quorum" as a majority of the governing body, unless otherwise defined by applicable law.(11) Ex officio, nonvoting members of a governmental body are not counted for purposes of determining the presence of a quorum.(12) A voting ex officio member of a governmental body is, however, counted in determining whether a quorum is present.(13)


II. Governmental Bodies


A. Definition

The definitions of "governmental body," "meeting," and "deliberation" work together to establish which public bodies are subject to the Open Meetings Act and what actions must conform to its requirements. Section 551.002 provides:

Section 551.001(3) defines "governmental body" as follows:

"Governmental body" means:

This definition establishes that some specific types of local governmental entities, such as a county commissioners court or a municipal governing body, are governmental bodies. In addition, section 551.0015, adopted in 1999, provides that certain property owners' associations are subject to the Open Meetings Act in the same manner as a governmental body.(15) This provision applies to a property owners' association if "membership in the property owners' association is mandatory for owners or a defined class of owners of real property in a defined geographic area in a county with a population of 2.8 million or more or in a county adjacent to a county with a population of 2.8 million or more," the association has authority to make mandatory special assessments for capital improvements or mandatory regular assessments, and the amount of the assessments is based in whole or in part on the value at which the property is assessed for purposes of ad valorem taxation under article VIII, section 20 of the Texas Constitution.(16)

In addition to enumerating specific entities that are governmental bodies, section 551.001(3) also defines "governmental body" in terms of an entity's creation, composition, or powers. For example, "a deliberative body that has rulemaking or quasi-judicial power and that is classified as a department, agency, or political subdivision of a county or municipality" is a governmental body.(17) It is necessary to know about an entity's powers and its place in the structure of the city or county government to determine whether it is a governmental body within this part of the definition.


B. State-Level Governmental Bodies

The definition of governmental body applicable to state-level entities sets out a general description of such entities, instead of naming specific agencies. Thus, a state-level entity will be a governmental body within the act if it is "within the executive or legislative branch of [the] state" and under the direction of "one or more elected or appointed members."(18) Moreover, it must have supervision or control over public business or policy.(19)

The definition of "governmental body" includes only entities within the executive and legislative departments of the state and, therefore, excludes the judiciary from the Open Meetings Act.(20)


C. Local Governmental Bodies

The part of the definition that applies to local entities lists several specific kinds of local governing bodies: commissioners courts; municipal governing bodies; the boards of trustees of school districts; county boards of school trustees; county boards of education; and certain nonprofit water supply or wastewater corporations. Also included are local-level entities within the following description: "a deliberative body that has rulemaking or quasi-judicial power and that is classified as a department, agency, or political subdivision of a county or municipality."(21) An analysis of a public entity's powers is necessary to determine whether it fits within this description. For example, Attorney General Opinion DM-426 (1996) concluded that a municipal housing authority created under chapter 392 of the Local Government Code was a governmental body subject to the Open Meetings Act. It was "a department, agency, or political subdivision of a . . . municipality" as well as "a deliberative body that has rule-making or quasi-judicial power" within section 551.001(3)(D) of the act. Attorney General Opinion DM-426 concluded on similar grounds that a county housing authority was a governmental body.(22) In City of Austin v. Evans,(23) the court ruled that a city grievance committee is not a governmental body subject to the Open Meetings Act because it has no power to make binding decisions, but can only make recommendations.

Finally, the definition of "governmental body" includes "the governing board of [every] special district created by law."(24) In Sierra Club v. Austin Transportation Study Policy Advisory Committee,(25) the court decided that the Austin Transportation Study Policy Advisory Committee ("ATSPAC") is a "special district" within the Open Meetings Act. The committee, whose seventeen members included state, county, regional and municipal public officials, was designated a metropolitan planning organization pursuant to federal law. Its decisions as to transportation planning within a five-county area were used by federal agencies to determine funding for local highway projects. Although such committees did not exist when the Open Meetings Act was adopted in 1967, a comparison of ATSPAC's functions to those of a "governmental body" demonstrate that the committee was the kind of body that the Open Meetings Act should govern.(26) The court determined that ATSPAC was the governing body of a special district within the following definition:

Relying on the Sierra Club case, this office has concluded that a committee of judges meeting to perform statutory functions with respect to the management of a community supervision and corrections department was subject to the act as a special district.(28)


D. Entities Not Within the Definition of "Governmental Body"

A private entity does not become a governmental body within the Open Meetings Act merely because it receives public funds. The Office of the Attorney General has determined that a nonprofit corporation that provided services to senior citizens of a county and that received state and federal grants was not a governmental body as defined by the act and was therefore not subject to the act's requirements.(29) A city chamber of commerce, a private entity, is not a governmental body within the Open Meetings Act merely because it receives public funds.(30) Nor is the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, a private corporation that acts as trustee for the Alamo on behalf of the state, a governmental body within the act.(31)


III. Meetings


A. Definition

The requirements of the Open Meetings Act apply to a governmental body, as defined by section 551.001(3), when it engages in a "regular, special, or called meeting [or session]."(32) "Deliberation" and "meeting" are defined in the act as follows:

According to this provision, governmental bodies that have supervision or control over public business or policy are subject to the Open Meetings Act. For state-level governmental bodies, which the act defines primarily in terms of membership, the determination that the entity has supervision or control over public business or policy will subject it to the act.(34) In contrast, a purely advisory body, which has no authority over public business or policy, is not subject to the act.(35) However, if the parent board routinely adopts, or "rubber-stamps" the recommendations of the advisory board, the advisory board probably will be considered to be a governmental body subject to the act.(36) Section 551.001(4)(B), through the end of the first sentence in subsection (iv), was added by the 76th Legislature to repeal the authorization for "employee briefing sessions."(37) The repeal of this provision is discussed in Part III.C of this handbook.


B. Informal or Social Meetings

When a quorum of the members of a governmental body assembles in an informal setting, such as a social occasion, it will be subject to the requirements of the act if the members engage in a verbal exchange about public business or policy. The attorney general has stated that breakfast meetings of a commissioners court are subject to the requirements of the Open Meetings Act unless the breakfasts "are purely social in nature and do not in any way involve discussion or consideration of public business or public policy."(38)

In addition, a quorum of members of a governmental body may be subject to the act when it meets with other public officers outside of a regular meeting. (39)


C. Deliberation Between a Quorum of a Governmental Body and a Third Party: Repeal of Provision Authorizing Employee Briefing Sessions

From the time it was enacted, the Open Meetings Act has applied to deliberations among a quorum of a governmental body.(40) Before 1987, the act did not apply when members of a governmental body met privately to receive information from and ask questions of their employees or of third parties, if they did not discuss any public business among themselves.(41) In 1987, the legislature amended the definition of "meeting" to provide that a meeting includes any deliberation "between a quorum of members of a governmental body and any other person" at which public business or policy is discussed or at which formal action is taken.(42) (Emphasis added.) At the same time, the definition of "deliberation" was amended to apply to a "verbal exchange during a meeting . . . between a quorum of members of a governmental body and any other person."(43) Thus, a governmental body must comply with the Open Meetings Act when a quorum of its members is present and engages in verbal deliberation with a third party, for example, by listening to a report and asking questions of that person. Under this aspect of the definition, no verbal exchange among members of the governmental body is necessary to subject the deliberations to the act.

The same 1987 legislation that redefined "deliberation" within the act also provided for "staff briefings," which were not required to be open to the public. The staff briefing provision, initially enacted as section 2(r) of article 6252-17, Revised Civil Statutes,(44) and recodified as section 551.075 of the Government Code in 1993,(45) stated that a governmental body was not required to confer with one or more of its employees in an open meeting if the only purpose of the conference was to receive information from the employees or question them.(46) Members of the governmental body were not allowed to deliberate about public business or agency policy affecting public business during such a conference.(47)

In 1999 the Legislature amended section 551.075, repealing the authority to conduct staff briefings for all governmental bodies except the Board of Trustees of the Texas Growth Fund.(48) It also added the following language to the definition of meeting in section 551.001(4):

Because of the amendments to section 551.001(4) and 551.075 of the act, the attorney general opinions and judicial decisions interpreting the "staff briefing" provision are now largely of historical interest. See generally Dallas Morning News Co. v. Board of Trustees,(50) Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. DM-191 (1992) (overruling Attorney General Opinion DM-17 (1991)); JM-1058 (1989) at 5-6.


D. Committees and Subcommittees of Governmental Bodies

Generally, meetings of less than a quorum of a governmental body are not subject to the act.(51) Under certain circumstances, however, an entity appointed by a governmental body and including less than a quorum of the parent body may be subject to the act.(52) A committee or subcommittee appointed by a governmental body and granted authority to supervise or control public business or public policy may itself fall within the definition of "governmental body."(53) For example, a pricing committee appointed by the Texas Public Finance Authority Board of Directors pursuant to statute was a governmental body because it had authority to negotiate the terms of a bond sale and to execute bond purchase contracts without any further action by the board.(54) Such committees were governmental bodies whether they were composed of board members or staff, because of the control over public business conferred upon them pursuant to statutory authority.(55)

Even a committee or subcommittee without formal control over public business or public policy may be deemed a governmental body subject to the act if its decisions are in fact "rubber stamped" by the parent body.(56) Opinions of this office have also held that a standing subcommittee consisting of less than a quorum of the parent body is subject to the requirements of the act because of the danger that the full board might merely rubber stamp a subcommittee's decisions and thereby deprive the public of access to the decision-making process.(57) In contrast, an advisory committee without control or supervision over public business or policy is not subject to the act, even though its membership includes some members, but less than a quorum, of a governmental body.(58)


E. Meetings Using Telephone, Videoconference, and Internet

The Open Meetings Act has been amended in recent years to permit some use of alternative means of communication. Generally, telephone meetings are not permitted under the general provisions of the act. (59)

The legislature amended the Open Meetings Act in 1995 by adding section 551.125,(60) which provides that a governmental body may hold an open or closed meeting by telephone conference call only if:

The emergency meeting is subject to the notice requirements applicable to other meetings held under the act. The open portions of the meeting are required to be audible to the public at the location specified in the notice and must be tape-recorded. The provision also requires that the location of the meeting shall be set up to provide two-way communication during the entire conference call and that the identity of each party to the conference call be clearly stated prior to speaking.

The Open Meetings Act also includes provisions that specifically authorize certain governmental bodies to conduct meetings by telephone conference call under limited circumstances.(62) The enabling statutes of certain state agencies authorize their governing boards to meet by telephone conference call under limited circumstances.(63)

Until recently, a member of a governmental body could not participate in a meeting by live video transmission, even though other board members and members of the public would be able to see and hear the absent participant.(64) The act now permits a member of a governmental body to participate in an open or closed meeting via videoconference when a quorum of the governmental body is present at one meeting place.(65) This provision sets out special requirements for notice, record-keeping, and two-way communication between meeting locations. It authorizes a governmental body to allow a member of the public to testify at a meeting from a remote location without regard to whether a member of the governmental body was participating in a meeting from a remote location. The legislature has also authorized the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to hold an open meeting by telephone conference call or videoconference call to consider a higher education impact statement if the board is to prepare the statement under the rules of the house or the senate.(66)

In 1999, the legislature added section 551.128 to the act, which provides that "a governmental body may broadcast an open meeting over the Internet," and sets out the requirements for a broadcast.(67) The broadcast does not substitute for conducting an in-person meeting but provides an additional way of disseminating the meeting. The statute that adopted section 551.128 also directs the Department of Information Resources to form a task force to determine whether a governmental body can receive real-time testimony from a person watching the broadcast over the Internet and provide a way for the public to comment to the governmental body over the Internet on the issues discussed at the meeting.(68) The task force is to report to the legislature by September 1, 2000.


IV. Notice Requirements


A. Content

The Open Meetings Act requires written notice of all meetings. Section 551.041 of the act provides:

A governmental body must give the public advance notice of the subjects it will consider in an open meeting or a closed executive session.(69) While a governmental body must give notice of the subject of executive sessions, no judicial decision or attorney general opinion states that it must indicate in the notice whether a subject will be discussed in open or closed session.(70) However, if the notices posted for a governmental body's meetings consistently distinguish between subjects for public deliberation and subjects for executive session deliberation, an abrupt departure from this practice may raise a question as to the adequacy of the notice.(71) Obviously, whether any particular notice is insufficient is a fact intensive inquiry.

Governmental actions taken in violation of the notice requirements of the Open Meetings Act are voidable.(72) If some actions taken at a meeting do not violate the notice requirements while others do, only the actions in violation of the act are voidable.(73) (For a discussion of the voidability of the governmental body's actions, refer to part VIII.B of this handbook.)

The notice must be sufficient to apprise the general public of the subjects to be considered during the meeting. In City of San Antonio v. Fourth Court of Appeals,(74) the Texas Supreme Court addressed the sufficiency of the following description in the agenda for a city meeting:

The owner of an oil and gas lease in the land to be condemned argued that this notice violated the subject requirement of the statutory predecessor to section 551.041 because it did "not describe the condemnation ordinance, and in particular the land to be condemned by that ordinance, in sufficient detail" to notify an owner reading the description that the city was considering condemning the owner's land.(76) The Texas Supreme Court rejected the argument that the notice be sufficiently detailed to notify specific owners that their tracts might be condemned. The court explained that the "Open Meetings Act is not a legislative scheme for service of process; it has no due process implications."(77) Its purpose was to give the general public access to governmental decision making.

The Texas Supreme Court held the condemnation notice valid because it apprised the public at large in general terms that the city would consider the condemnation of certain property in a specific area for purposes of the Applewhite project. The court also noted that the description would notify a landowner of property in the four listed blocks that the property might be condemned, even though it was insufficient to notify an owner that his or her tracts in particular were proposed for condemnation.(78)

General topics such as "litigation" and "personnel" may not provide sufficient notice. In Cox Enterprises v. Board of Trustees,(79) the Texas Supreme Court held insufficient the notice of a school board's executive session that listed only the general topics of "litigation" and "personnel."(80) One of the items considered at the closed session was the appointment of a new school superintendent. The court noted that the selection of a new superintendent was not in the same category as ordinary personnel matters, since it is a matter of special interest to the public; thus, the use of the term "personnel" is not sufficient to apprise the general public of the board's proposed selection of the new superintendent. The court also noted that "litigation" would not sufficiently describe a major desegregation suit that had occupied the district's time for a number of years.(81)

Two earlier decisions of the Texas Supreme Court, Lower Colorado River Authority v. City of San Marcos(82) and Texas Turnpike Authority v. City of Fort Worth,(83) had focused also on whether the general public was provided adequate notice of the nature of the matter to be considered. In Texas Turnpike Authority, the Texas Supreme Court addressed the sufficiency of the following notice for a meeting at which the turnpike authority board adopted a resolution approving the expansion of a turnpike: "Consider request . . . to determine feasibility of a bond issue to expand and enlarge [the turnpike]."(84) Prior resolutions of the board had reflected the board's intent to make the turnpike a free road once existing bonds were paid. The court found the notice sufficient, refuting the arguments that the notice should have included a copy of the proposed resolution, that the notice should have indicated the board's proposed action was at variance with its prior intent, or that the notice should have stated all the consequences that might result from the proposed action.(85)

In Lower Colorado River Authority, the Texas Supreme Court addressed the sufficiency of the notice for the May 24, 1973, meeting of the Lower Colorado River Authority Board providing "ratification of the prior action of the Board taken on October 19, 1972, in response to changes in electric power rates for electric power sold within the boundaries of the City of San Marcos, Texas."(86) Although the notice did not state that the board was considering an increase in rates, the Texas Supreme Court upheld the validity of the rate increases adopted at the meeting, because the notice was sufficient to notify the reader "that some action would be considered with respect to charges for electric power sold in San Marcos."(87)

Whether a particular notice is sufficient for purposes of the Open Meetings Act generally involves the resolution of disputed fact questions, and the courts carefully examine the facts to determine whether a particular subject or personnel matter is sufficiently described or requires more specific treatment because it is of special interest to the community.(88) Consequently, counsel for the governing body should be consulted if any doubt exists concerning the specificity of notice required for a particular matter.

In an amendment to the Open Meetings Act authorizing public power utilities to meet in executive session regarding competitive matters, the 76th Legislature included a provision on the specificity of notice required for such executive sessions.(89) This notice provision is addressed in section VI.B.12 of this handbook.


B. Place of Posting

The Open Meetings Act provides specific rules for the place for posting notice. The posting requirements vary depending on the nature of the governing body posting the notice. Sections 551.048 through 551.055 address the posting requirements of state entities, cities and counties, school districts, and other districts and political subdivisions. These provisions are quite detailed and, therefore, are set out here in full:

551.048. State Governmental Body: Notice to Secretary of State; Place of Posting Notice

Until 1999, section 551.048 required the secretary of state to post the notice on a bulletin board in the main office of the secretary of state. The 76th Legislature amended this provision to require posting on the Internet.(91)

551.049. County Governmental Body: Place of Posting Notice

551.050. Municipal Governmental Body: Place of Posting Notice

551.051. School District: Place of Posting Notice

551.052. School District: Special Notice to News Media

551.053. District or Political Subdivision Extending Into Four or More Counties: Notice to Public, Secretary of State, and County Clerk; Place of Posting Notice

551.054. District or Political Subdivision Extending Into Fewer Than Four Counties: Notice to Public and County Clerks; Place of Posting Notice

551.055. Institution of Higher Education

In addition to providing any other notice required by this subchapter, the governing board of a single institution of higher education:

These posting requirements are mandatory, and actions taken at a meeting for which notice was posted incorrectly will be voidable.(94) In Sierra Club, the court held that the committee was a special district covering four or more counties for purposes of the Open Meetings Act and, as such, was required to submit notice to the secretary of state pursuant to the statutory predecessor to section 551.053.(95) The committee had posted notice only in the city hall, the county courthouse, and its administrative offices.(96) Thus, a governmental body that does not clearly fall within one of the categories covered by sections 551.048 through 551.055 should consider satisfying all possibly applicable posting requirements.


C. Time of Posting

In addition to specificity and location, the Open Meetings Act requires that notice of meeting be posted a certain amount of time in advance of a meeting. The general rule is that the notice must be posted 72 hours before the scheduled time of the meeting. Section 551.043 states the general time requirement as follows:

Section 551.044, which excepts from the general rule governmental bodies with statewide jurisdiction, provides as follows:

While the seven-day requirement for state entities appears to have caused little difficulty, the interplay between the 72-hour rule and the requirement that the posting be in a place convenient to the general public in a particular location, such as the city hall or the county courthouse, has created legal and practical difficulties for local entities, since the required locations are not usually accessible during the night or on weekends.

In City of San Antonio v. Fourth Court of Appeals, the Texas Supreme Court addressed this very problem. The city had posted notice of its February 15, 1990, meeting in two different locations. One notice was posted on a bulletin board inside the city hall, and the other notice was posted on a kiosk outside the main entrance to the city hall. This was done because the city hall was locked at night, thereby preventing continuous access during the 72-hour period to the notice posted inside. The court held that the double posting satisfied the requirements of the statutory predecessors to sections 551.043 and 551.050. The court relied on the literal language of the statutory predecessor to section 551.043, which did not expressly refer to the requirement that notice be posted in the city hall, and concluded that the notices described in the statutory predecessors to sections 551.043 and 551.150 could be separate notices. In particular, the court noted that the statutory predecessor to section 551.043 required notice "'in a place readily accessible to the general public at all times'" and not in any particular place as required in the statutory predecessors to sections 551.048 through 551.054.(98) The court also noted that the statutory predecessor to section 551.050 did not have a 72-hour requirement, but that "any notice posted under this subsection must be posted for a sufficient period of time to ensure that the public has the opportunity to read it."(99)

The Texas Supreme Court's decision in City of San Antonio took a literal approach to the time and place requirements for posting notice under the statutory predecessors to sections 551.043 and 551.050.(100) The test that the Texas Supreme Court applied in City of San Antonio to determine the sufficiency of the notice pursuant to the statutory predecessor to section 551.043 cannot be readily described as one of substantial or literal compliance. The test the court used was: Does the notice apprise the general public of the subject to be considered? If not, it is insufficient; if yes, it is sufficient. Regardless of the words used to describe the approach the Texas Supreme Court took in City of San Antonio or earlier in Cox Enterprises with regard to the act's provisions, the court indicated in both cases that compliance with the act's provisions is mandatory, not discretionary, and that actions taken in violation thereof will be voidable.


D. Emergency and Supplemental Posting

Special rules exist for providing notice of emergency meetings and for providing supplemental notice of subjects added to a meeting after the initial posting. These rules pertain to the timing and content of the notice to the public and not to its physical location. Section 551.045 provides:

In accordance with section 551.045, the notice to the public of an emergency meeting must be posted at least two hours before the meeting is scheduled to begin. Instead of calling a separate meeting to handle an emergency item, a governmental body may decide to consider the item during a previously scheduled meeting. The governmental body must post notice of the subject added as an item to the agenda at least two hours before the meeting begins to avoid violating the act.

In addition to posting the public notice of an emergency meeting, the governmental body must give special notice of the emergency meeting or emergency item to members of the news media who have previously (1) filed a request with the governmental body and (2) agreed to reimburse the governmental body for providing the special notice.(101) The notice to members of the news media is to be given by telephone or telegraph.(102)

Because section 551.045 provides for two-hour notice only for emergency meetings or for adding emergency items to the agenda, a governmental body adding a nonemergency item to its meeting agenda must satisfy the general notice period of section 551.043 or section 551.044, as applicable, regarding the subject of that item.

Since 1987, the act has required that the public notice of an emergency meeting or an emergency item "clearly identify" the emergency or urgent public necessity for calling the meeting or for adding the item to the agenda of a previously scheduled meeting.(103) Previously, the act did not require that the nature of the emergency be set out in the notice.(104) In 1987 the Texas Legislature also added the language defining "emergency" for purposes of emergency meetings or emergency items.(105)

Even before this amendment to the act, one appellate court construed the term "emergency" to mean essentially what the legislature later explicitly said it meant.(106) The court stated:

The existence of an emergency depends on the facts in a given case.(108) For example, a city council held an emergency meeting to discuss indemnifying the council and hiring a law firm to represent the council in a lawsuit when it had twenty days to answer the initial pleadings. This office concluded that this situation did not require immediate action justifying the waiver of the regular 72-hour notice requirement.(109)

The Texas Supreme Court has not discussed the power of the courts to review the determination of a governmental body that an emergency exists. Appellate courts, however, have held that they can review the determination of a governmental body that an emergency exists.(110)


E. Recess in a Meeting

There is very little authority on the ability of a governing body to recess a meeting. In Rivera v. City of Laredo,(111) the city council met on May 6 after an alleged recess from a May 4 meeting without first posting notice of the May 6 meeting. The court determined that the city was required to post notice of its May 6 meeting before convening, regardless of whether it considered the meeting a continuation from a recessed meeting held two days previously.(112) On the basis of Rivera, this office has concluded that a commissioners court may continue a meeting from day to day without reposting notice, but that notice must be reposted if a meeting is continued to any day other than the one immediately following the meeting day.(113)


V. Open Sessions


A. Convening the Meeting


A meeting may not be convened unless a quorum of the governmental body is present in the meeting room.(114) This requirement applies even if the governmental body plans to go into an executive session immediately after convening.(115) The public is entitled to know which members are present for the executive session and whether there is a quorum.(116)


B. Location of Meeting

The act requires a meeting of a governmental body to be held in a location accessible to the public and thus precludes an entity subject to the act from meeting in an inaccessible location, such as the office of an underwriter in another state.(117) In addition, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a meeting room in which a public meeting is held must be physically accessible to individuals with disabilities. See Open Meetings Handbook, Part IX.C.


C. Rights of the Public

A meeting that is "open to the public" under the Open Meetings Act is one that the public is permitted to attend.(118) The act does not entitle the public to choose the items to be discussed or to speak about items on the agenda.(119) A governmental body may, however, give members of the public an opportunity to speak at a public meeting.(120) If it does so, it may set reasonable limits on the number, frequency, and length of presentations before it, but it may not unfairly discriminate among speakers for or against a particular point of view.(121)

The Open Meetings Act permits a member of the public or a member of the governmental body to raise a subject that has not been included in the notice for the meeting, but any discussion of the subject must be limited to a proposal to place the subject on the agenda for a future meeting. Section 551.042 of the act provides for this procedure:

Another section of the act permits members of the public to record open meetings with a tape recorder or a video camera:


D. Final Actions

Section 551.102 of the act provides as follows:

A governmental body's final action, decision, or vote on any matter within its jurisdiction may be made only in an open session held in compliance with the notice requirements of the act. (For a discussion of notice requirements, see part IV of this handbook.) The governmental body may not vote in an open session by secret written ballot.(123) Furthermore, a governmental body may not take action by written agreement without a meeting.(124)

If the authority to make a decision is vested in an employee of a governmental body, the decision need not be made at an open meeting. For example, when the city attorney had authority under the city charter to bring a lawsuit and did not need city council approval to appeal, a discussion of the appeal by the city manager, a quorum of council members, and the city attorney did not involve a final action.(125)

Similarly, the fact that the State Board of Insurance discussed and approved a reduction in force at meetings that violated the act did not affect the validity of the reduction, where the Commissioner of Insurance had independent authority to terminate employees.(126) The board's superfluous approval of the firings was irrelevant to their validity.(127)

In the usual case, when the authority to make a decision or to take an action is vested in the governmental body, the governmental body must act in an open session. In Toyah Independent School District v. Pecos-Barstow Independent School District,(128) for example, the Toyah School Board sued to enjoin enforcement of an annexation order approved by the Board of Trustees of Reeves County in a closed meeting. The Board of Trustees of Reeves County had excluded all members of the public from the meeting room before voting in favor of an order annexing the Toyah district to a third school district.(129) The court determined that the board of trustees' action violated the Open Meetings Act and held that the order of annexation was ineffective.(130) The Toyah Independent School District court thus developed the remedy of judicial invalidation of actions taken by a governmental body in violation of the Open Meetings Act. This remedy is now codified in section 551.141 of the act. The voidability of a governmental body's actions taken in violation of the act is discussed in part VIII.B of this handbook.

Furthermore, the actual vote or decision on the ultimate issue confronting the governmental body must be made in an open session.(131) In Board of Trustees v. Cox Enterprises,(132) the court of appeals held that a school board violated the statutory predecessor to section 551.102 when it selected a board member to serve as board president. In an executive session, the board took a written vote on which of two board members would serve as president, and the winner of the vote was announced. The board then returned to the open session and voted unanimously for the individual who won the vote in the executive session.(133) Although the board argued that the written vote in the executive session was "simply a straw vote" that did not violate the act, the court of appeals found that "there is sufficient evidence to support the trial court's conclusion that the actual resolution of the issue was made in the executive session contrary to the provisions of" the statutory predecessor to section 551.102.(134) Thus, as Board of Trustees makes clear, a governmental body should not take a "straw vote" or otherwise attempt to count votes in an executive session.

On the other hand, the act does not prohibit the members of a governmental body deliberating in a permissible executive session from expressing their opinions or indicating how they will vote in the open session. The court in Board of Trustees stated: "A contrary holding would debilitate the role of the deliberations which are permitted in the executive sessions and would unreasonably limit the rights of expression and advocacy."(135)

In certain circumstances, a governmental body may make a "decision" or take an "action" in an executive session that will not be considered a "final action, decision, or vote" that must be taken in an open session. The court in Board of Trustees held that the school board did not take a "final action" when it discussed making public the names and qualifications of the candidates for superintendent or when it discussed selling surplus property and instructed the administration to solicit bids. The court concluded that the board was simply announcing that the law would be followed, rather than taking any action, in deciding to make the names and qualifications of the candidates public. The court also noted that further action would be required before the board could decide to sell the surplus property; therefore, the instruction to solicit bids was not a "final action."(136)


VI. Executive Sessions


A. Overview of Subchapter D of the Open Meetings Act

The Open Meetings Act provides certain narrowly-drawn exceptions to the requirement that meetings of a governmental body be open to the public.(137) These exceptions are found in sections 551.071 through 551.086 and are discussed in detail in part VI.B of this handbook.

Section 551.101 states the requirements for holding a closed session. It provides:

Thus, for a governmental body to hold an executive session that complies with the act, a quorum of the governmental body must be assembled in the meeting room, the meeting must be convened as an open meeting pursuant to proper notice, and the presiding officer must announce that a closed session will be held and must identify the sections of the act authorizing the closed session.(138) There are several purposes for requiring the presiding officer to identify the section or sections that authorize the closed session: to cause the governmental body to assess the applicability of the exceptions before deciding to close the meeting; to fix the governmental body's legal position as relying upon the exceptions specified; and to inform those present of the exceptions, thereby giving them an opportunity to object intelligently.(139) Judging the sufficiency of the presiding officer's announcement in light of whether it effectuated or hindered these purposes, the court of appeals in Lone Star Greyhound Park, Inc. v. Texas Racing Commission determined that the presiding officer's reference to the content of a section, rather than to the section number, sufficiently identified the exception.(140)

Section 551.003 provides that the legislature, in enacting the Open Meetings Act, is exercising its rule-making powers to prohibit secret meetings of the legislature, its committees, or any other bodies associated with the legislature, except as otherwise specifically permitted by the Texas Constitution. Letter Advisory No. 84 (1974) considered the application of the statutory predecessor to this provision to a senate subcommittee. It pointed out that article III, section 11 of the Texas Constitution authorizes each house to determine the rules for its proceedings and that neither house may infringe upon or limit the present or future right of the other to adopt its own rules. It raised the possibility that this provision was unconstitutional to the extent that it conflicted with article III, section 11 of the constitution, but it did not reach that issue.


B. Provisions Authorizing Deliberations in Executive Session

1. Section 551.071: Consultations with Attorney

Section 551.071 authorizes a governmental body to consult with its attorney in an executive session to seek his or her advice on legal matters. It provides as follows:

This provision implements the attorney-client privilege.(141) The attorney-client privilege can be waived, in particular, by communicating privileged matters in the presence of strangers.(142) Attorney General Opinion MW-417 (1981) addressed the argument that the statutory predecessor to section 551.071 authorized two governmental bodies to meet in executive session for discussions intended to avoid litigation between them. However, "[n]either party consulted privately with its attorney but did so in the presence of its potential adversary, the party from whom it would normally conceal its intentions and strategy."(143) Thus, the statutory predecessor to section 551.071 did not apply to the meeting.(144)

Section 551.071 authorizes a governmental body to meet with its attorney in executive session to seek its attorney's advice on pending or contemplated litigation or settlement offers,(145) including pending or contemplated administrative proceedings governed by the Administrative Procedure Act.(146) Attorney General Opinion JM-100 (1983) determined that a governmental body may hold an executive session to seek or receive its attorney's advice on legal matters that are not related to litigation or the settlement of litigation.(147) It based this conclusion on the language of the statutory predecessor to section 551.071, which authorized private consultations between the governmental body and its attorney concerning "matters where the duty of a public body's counsel to his client, pursuant to the Code of Professional Responsibility of the State Bar of Texas, clearly conflicts with [the Open Meetings Act]."(148)

Attorney General Opinion JM-100 (1983) also cautioned that a discussion in an executive session held under this exception may relate only to a legal proceeding or legal matters. "General discussion of policy, unrelated to legal matters, is not permitted under the language of [this exception] merely because an attorney is present."(149)

2. Section 551.072: Deliberations about Real Property

Section 551.072 authorizes a governmental body to deliberate in executive session on certain matters concerning real property. It provides as follows:

Section 551.072 permits an executive session only where public discussion of the subject would have a detrimental effect on the governmental body's negotiating position with respect to a third party.(150) It does not allow a governmental body to "cut a deal in private, devoid of public input or debate."(151) A governmental body's discussion of nonmonetary attributes of property to be purchased that relate to the property's value may fall within this exception if deliberating in open session would detrimentally affect subsequent negotiations.(152)

3. Section 551.073: Deliberations about Gifts and Donations

Section 551.073 provides as follows:

A governmental body may conduct a closed meeting to deliberate a negotiated contract for a prospective gift or donation to the state or the governmental body if deliberation in an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the position of the governmental body in negotiations with a third person.

The statutory predecessor to section 551.073 was part of the same section of the act as the statutory predecessor to section 551.072.(153) Therefore, reference to the authorities construing the statutory predecessor to section 551.072 may be helpful in understanding section 551.073.(154)

4. Section 551.074: Personnel Matters

Section 551.074 authorizes certain deliberations about officers and employees of the governmental body to be held in executive session:

This section permits executive session deliberations concerning an individual officer or employee. Deliberations about a class of employees must, however, be held in an open session.(155) For example, when a governmental body discusses salary scales without referring to a specific employee, it must meet in an open session.(156) The closed meetings authorized by section 551.074 may deal only with officers and employees of a governmental body; closed deliberations about the selection of an independent contractor are not authorized.(157)

Section 551.074 authorizes the public officer or employee under consideration to request a public hearing.(158) The governmental body may proceed with an executive session, however, if the employee acquiesces. In Bowen v. Calallen Independent School District,(159) a teacher requested a public hearing concerning nonrenewal of his contract, but did not object when the school board moved to go into executive session. The court concluded that the school board did not violate the Open Meetings Act.(160) Similarly, in James v. Hitchcock Independent School District,(161) a school librarian requested an open meeting on the school district's unilateral modification of her contract. The court stated that refusal of the request for a hearing before the school board "is permissible only where the teacher does not object to its denial."(162)

It is important to note that the act does not entitle a public officer or employee who is the subject of deliberations to insist on a closed session. In Attorney General Opinion JM-1191 (1990), this office considered an employee's grievance about his evaluations. The employee contested the substance of the evaluations and claimed that actions of school district administrators in the evaluation process had violated district policy and his constitutional rights. The employee requested an open hearing on his grievance, but the administrators argued that the purpose of the hearing was to hear the employee's "complaints or charges" about them, and that it should be closed unless they requested an open hearing. On the facts presented, the opinion concluded that the board did not propose "to hear complaints or charges" against the administrators and thus, the employee was entitled to an open hearing.(163)

5. Section 551.0745: Deliberations by Commissioners Court about County Advisory Body

Attorney General Opinion DM-149 (1992) concluded that members of an advisory committee are not public officers or employees within section 551.074 of the Government Code, authorizing executive session deliberations about certain personnel matters. Section 551.0745, adopted in 1997,(164) provides that a commissioners court of a county is not required to deliberate in an open meeting about the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline or dismissal of a member of an advisory body or to hear a complaint or charge against a member of an advisory body. However, this provision does not apply if the person who is the subject of the deliberation requests a public hearing.

6. Section 551.076: Deliberations about Security Devices

Section 551.076 provides as follows:

7. Sections 551.078 through 521.0812: Exceptions Applicable to Specific Entities

Sections 551.078 through 551.0812 are set out below. The judicial decisions and attorney general opinions construing the Open Meetings Act have had little to say about these provisions.

8. Section 551.082: Certain School Board Deliberations

Section 551.082 provides as follows:

A student who makes a written request for an open hearing on his disciplinary matter, but does not object to an executive session when announced, waives his or her right to an open hearing.(166)

9. Section 551.083: School Board Operating Under Consultation Agreement

Section 551.083 provides as follows:

A school board meeting in executive session under the statutory predecessor to this section could discuss salary schedules for a class of employees to the extent that the discussion related to terms it would follow in the consultations.(167)

10. Section 551.085: Certain Providers of Health Care Services

Section 551.085 provides that the governing board of a municipal hospital, hospital district, or municipal hospital authority is not required to conduct an open meeting to deliberate pricing or financial planning information relating to a bid or negotiation for the provision of services or products lines if disclosure of the information would give advantage to their competitors. As of September 1, 1999, hospital districts created under general or special law, and nonprofit health maintenance organizations created under section 534.101, Health and Safety Code,(168) have also been covered by section 551.085.(169) Section 551.085 also provides that these entities need not conduct an open meeting to deliberate information relating to a proposed new service or product line before they publicly announce it.

11. Section 551.086: Deliberations Regarding Test Item [adopted by Act of May 19, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 312, 1, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 1217 (Vernon) ( to be codified at Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.086)]

The 76th legislature adopted three executive session provisions to be codified as section 551.086 of the Government Code. One of these provides as follows:

As noted above, an executive session may be held only when expressly authorized by law. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. DM-284 (1994); MW-578 (1982). This office had previously determined that no provision of the Open Meetings Act authorized a governmental body to meet in executive session to discuss the contents of a licensing examination. Section 551.086 now expressly authorizes an executive session for the purpose of deliberating a test item or information related to a test item if the governmental body believes that the test item may be included in a licensing or certification examination that the governmental body will administer.

12. Section 551.086: Certain Public Power Utilities: Competitive Matters [adopted by Act of May 27, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 405, 45, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 2543, 2617-18 (Vernon) (to be codified at Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.086)]

This long and detailed provision is given only an overview here and should be read in its entirety by persons interested in knowing when and how it applies. This section was adopted as part of an act relating to electric utility restructuring and the powers and duties of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, Office of Public Utility Counsel, and Texas Natural Resource Conservation.(170) It provides that certain public power utilities are not required to conduct an open meeting to deliberate, vote, or take final action on any competitive matter as defined in subsection (b)(3) of Government Code section 551.086.(171) Subsection (b)(3) defines "competitive matter" as "a utility-related matter that the public power utility governing body in good faith determines by a vote under this section is related to the public power utility's competitive activity, including commercial information, and would, if disclosed, give advantage to competitors or prospective competitors but may not be deemed to include" several categories of information specifically set out.(172) "Public power utility" is defined as "an entity providing electric or gas utility services" that is subject to the provisions of the Open Meetings Act.(173) Finally, this executive session provision includes the following provision on notice:

13. Section 551.086: Deliberation Regarding Economic Development Negotiations [adopted by Act of May 25, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 1319, 32, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 4500, 4513 (Vernon) (to be codified at Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.086)]

This provision reads as follows:


C. Effect of Other Laws

Section 551.004 of the Government Code provides as follows:

In Shackelford v. City of Abilene,(175) the Texas Supreme Court held that a resident of Abilene had a right under the Abilene City Charter to require public meetings. The city charter included the following provision:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Board of Abilene, a board appointed by the city council, was bound by this provision and could not hold a closed session under the authority of the statutory predecessor to section 551.074 of the Government Code.(177)

The legislature has provided specific exceptions from certain requirements of the Open Meetings Act for some agencies in their enabling statutes.(178) It has also adopted provisions requiring specific entities to comply with the act. For example, section 12.105(b) of the Education Code provides that the governing body of an open-enrollment charter school is a governmental body for purposes of the Open Meetings Act. The statute applicable to a specific governmental body should be consulted for provisions affecting its public meetings.


D. No Implied Authority for Closed Sessions

A few attorney general opinions have concluded that a governmental body could deliberate in a closed session about confidential information, even though no Open Meetings Act provision authorizing a closed session applied to the deliberations.(179) These opinions reasoned that information made confidential by statute was not within the act's prohibition against privately discussing "public business or public policy," or that the board members could deliberate on information in a closed session if an open meeting would result in violation of a confidentiality provision.(180)

However, Attorney General Opinion MW-578 (1982) concluded that the Texas Employment Commission had no authority to review unemployment benefit cases in closed session, even though in some of the cases very personal information was disclosed about claimants and employers. Reasoning that the act states that closed meetings may be held only where specifically authorized, the opinion concluded that there was no basis to read into it implied authority for closed meetings.(181) It disapproved the language in Attorney General Opinion H-223 (1974) and other opinions that suggest otherwise, but stated that the commission could protect privacy rights by avoiding discussion of private information.(182) Thus, Attorney General Opinion H-223 and those others disapproved by Attorney General Opinion MW-578 should no longer be relied on as a source of authority for a closed session.

Significantly, the legislature has adopted the kind of provision that Attorney General Opinion MW-578 (1982) said could not be implied from the Open Meetings Act. Section 551.081 of the act provides that "[t]his chapter does not require the Credit Union Commission to conduct an open meeting to deliberate a matter made confidential by law." Thus, the Credit Union Commission has express authority to deliberate in closed session about a "matter made confidential by law." Sections 551.0811 and 551.0812 similarly authorize the Finance Commission and the State Banking Board to deliberate in closed session about matters made confidential by law. These express provisions affirm this office's conclusion that implied authority to hold closed meetings is non-existent.


VII. Records of Meetings


A. Minutes and Tape Recordings of Open Sessions

Section 551.021 of the Government Code provides as follows:

Section 551.022 of the Government Code provides:

If minutes are kept instead of a tape recording, the minutes must record every action taken by the governmental body.(183) When a county clerk tapes open sessions of a commissioners court's meeting, the tape recordings are available to the public under the Open Records Act.(184)


B. Certified Agenda

A governmental body must make and keep either a certified agenda or a tape recording of each closed executive session, except for an executive session held by the governmental body to consult with its attorney in accordance with section 551.071 of the Government Code.(185)

If a certified agenda is kept, the presiding officer must certify that the agenda is a true and correct record of the executive session.(186) The certified agenda must include (1) a statement of the subject matter of each deliberation, (2) a record of any further action taken, and (3) an announcement by the presiding officer at the beginning and the end of the closed meeting indicating the date and time.(187) While the agenda does not have to be a verbatim transcript of the meeting, it must at least provide a brief summary of each deliberation.(188) Whether a particular agenda satisfies the act is a question of fact that must be addressed by the courts. Attorney General Opinion JM-840 (1988) cautioned governmental bodies to consider providing greater detail in the agenda with regard to topics not authorized for consideration in executive session or to avoid the uncertainty concerning the requisite detail required in an agenda by tape recording executive sessions.(189) Any member of a governmental body participating in a closed session knowing that an agenda or recording is not being made commits a Class C misdemeanor.(190)

The certified agenda or tape recording of an executive session must be kept a minimum of two years after the date of the session. However, if during that time, a lawsuit that concerns the meeting is brought, the agenda or tape of that meeting must be kept pending resolution of the lawsuit.(191)

A certified agenda or tape recording of an executive session is confidential. A person who knowingly and without lawful authority makes these records public commits a Class B misdemeanor and may be held liable for actual damages, court costs, reasonable attorney fees, and exemplary or punitive damages.(192) (For further discussion of criminal penalties for violating the act, refer to part VIII.C of this handbook.)

Section 551.104 provides for court-ordered access to the certified agenda or tape recording under specific circumstances:

Section 551.104 authorizes a district court to admit all or part of the certified agenda or tape recording of a closed session as evidence in an action alleging a violation of the act, thus providing the only means under state law whereby a certified agenda or tape recording of a closed session may be released to the public.(193) The Office of the Attorney General has recognized that it lacks authority under the Open Records Act(194) to review certified agendas or recordings of closed sessions for compliance with the Open Meetings Act.(195) However, the confidentiality provision may be preempted by federal law.(196) When the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission served a Texas city with an administrative subpoena for tapes of closed city council meetings, the Open Meetings Act did not excuse compliance.(197)

A member of a governmental body has a right to inspect the certified agenda or tape recording of a closed meeting, even if he or she did not participate in the meeting.(198) This is not a release to the public in violation of the confidentiality provisions of the Open Meetings Act, because a board member is not a member of the public within that prohibition.(199) The governmental body may adopt a procedure for reviewing the tape recording or certified agenda, but may not entirely prohibit a board member from reviewing the record. The board member may not copy the tape recording or certified agenda of a closed meeting, nor may a former member of a governmental body inspect these records once he or she leaves office.(200)


VIII. Penalties and Remedies


A. Mandamus, Injunction, or Declaratory Judgment

Section 551.142 of the Open Meetings Act provides as follows:

Generally, a writ of mandamus would be issued by a court to require a public official or other person to perform duties imposed on him or her by law. Thus, mandamus ordinarily commands the doing of an act. An injunction, in contrast, would usually be issued to restrain the doing of an act.(201) The Open Meetings Act does not automatically confer jurisdiction on the county court, but where the plaintiff's money demand brings the amount in controversy within the court's monetary limits, the county court has authority to issue injunctive and mandamus relief.(202) Absent such a pleading, jurisdiction in original mandamus and original injunction proceedings lies in the district court.(203)

Section 551.142(a) authorizes any interested person, including a member of the press, to bring a civil action seeking either a writ of mandamus or an injunction.(204) The courts have construed the phrase "any interested person" broadly, holding that it includes a government league,(205) an environmental group,(206) and the president of a local homeowners group.(207) A suspended police officer and a police officers' association were "interested persons" who could bring a suit alleging that the city council had violated the Open Meetings Act in selecting a police chief.(208) The courts in Texas have also recognized that an individual authorized to seek a writ of mandamus or an injunction under the Open Meetings Act may also bring a declaratory judgment action pursuant to the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act, chapter 37 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.(209) In such a proceeding, the court is authorized to determine the rights, status, duties, and other legal relations of various persons, including public officers, and thus, the court may determine the validity of a governmental body's actions under the Open Meetings Act in an action for declaratory relief.(210)

Section 551.142(b) authorizes a court to award reasonable attorney fees and litigation costs to the party who substantially prevails in an action brought under the Open Meetings Act.(211) This relief, however, is discretionary and not mandatory. The Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act also authorizes a court to award reasonable attorney fees.(212)

Depending on the nature of the violation, additional monetary damages may be assessed against a governmental body violating the Open Meetings Act. In Ferris v. Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners,(213) the appellate court awarded back pay and reinstatement to the board's executive director whom the board had attempted to fire at two meetings convened in violation of the act. Finally, at the third meeting held to discuss the matter, the board lawfully fired the executive director. Back pay was awarded for the period between the initial unlawful firing and the third meeting at which the director's employment was lawfully terminated.(214)

Court costs or attorney fees, as well as certain other monetary damages, can also be assessed under section 551.146, relating to the confidentiality of the certified agenda. It provides that an individual, corporation, or partnership that knowingly and without lawful authority makes public the certified agenda or tape recording of an executive session shall be liable for:


B. Voidability of Governmental Body's Action in Violation of the Act

Section 551.141 provides that "[a]n action taken by a governmental body in violation of this chapter is voidable." This section codifies Texas cases previously holding, as a matter of common law, that a governmental body's actions that are in violation of the Open Meetings Act are subject to judicial invalidation.(216)

In Point Isabel Independent School District v. Hinojosa,(217) the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals construed this provision to permit the judicial invalidation of only the specific action or actions found to violate the Open Meetings Act. Prior to doing so, the court in Point Isabel Independent School District addressed the sufficiency of the notice for the school board's July 12, 1988, meeting. With regard to that issue, the court determined that the description "personnel" in the notice was insufficient notice of the selection of three principals at the meeting, a matter of special interest to the public, but was sufficient notice of the selection of a librarian, an English teacher, an elementary school teacher, a band director, and a part-time counselor.(218) (For further discussion of required content of notice under the act, refer to part IV.A of this handbook.) The court in Point Isabel Independent School District then turned to the question of whether the board's invalid selection of the three principals tainted all hiring decisions made at the meeting. The court felt that, given the reference in the statutory predecessor to section 551.141 to "an action taken" and not to "all actions taken," this provision meant only that a specific action or specific actions violating the act were subject to judicial invalidation. Consequently, the court refused the plaintiff's request to invalidate all hiring decisions made at the meeting and held void only the board's selection of the three principals.(219)

Section 551.141 authorizes a court to invalidate an action that violates any of the Open Meetings Act's requirements. Thus, the courts are not limited to invalidating only actions that violate the Open Meetings Act's notice requirements.(220) A court, however, is not required to invalidate an action taken in violation of the Open Meetings Act, and it may choose not to do so given the facts of a specific case.(221)

A governmental body that has taken action on a matter at a meeting that violates the act may meet again and validly authorize the action at a properly convened meeting of which the public has received adequate notice. Any subsequent action, however, is generally effective only from the date of the new meeting, and as indicated below, only if that new meeting complies with the Open Meetings Act.(222)

In Ferris v. Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners, the Austin Court of Appeals applied these general rules and refused to give retroactive effect to a decision to fire the executive director reached at a meeting of the board that was held in compliance with the Open Meetings Act.(223) The board had attempted to fire the director at two previous meetings that did not comply with the act. The board argued that the subsequent lawful termination rectified or cured the two previous unlawful firings and that the lawful termination related back to the initial unlawful firing. The court rejected this argument and awarded back pay to the director for the period between the initial unlawful firing and the final lawful termination.

Reauthorization or ratification of an action previously taken in violation of the Open Meetings Act must comply with all applicable provisions of the act.(224) The facts of Ferris reveal that the state board carefully complied with the act in its third and final termination of the director's employment contract. In contrast, the facts of Porth v. Morgan(225) indicate that the Houston County Hospital Authority Board's attempt to reauthorize the appointment of an individual to the board failed to comply with all of the act's applicable requirements. The original appointment of the individual to the board had been made during a closed meeting in violation of the act's requirement that final action take place in an open meeting. The original appointment also violated the notice requirements of the act, since the posted notice for the meeting had not included the appointment of a board member as an item of business. At a subsequent open meeting, the board selected that individual as their vice-chairman and, as such, a member of their board. The notice for the subsequent open meeting, however, included only the selection of board officers as an item on the agenda, and not the appointment of a new member or the ratification by the board of its prior invalid appointment of the member. The court therefore found that the board's subsequent selection of the individual as vice-chairman was insufficient ratification of the board's appointment of the individual to the board.


C. Criminal Provisions

Certain violations of the Open Meetings Act's requirements concerning certified agendas or tape recordings of executive sessions are punishable as Class C or Class B misdemeanors. (For a discussion of these violations, refer to part VII.B of this handbook.) Section 551.145 provides as follows:

Section 551.146 provides:

In order to find that a person has violated one of these provisions, the trier of fact must determine that the person acted "knowingly." Section 6.03(b) of the Texas Penal Code defines that state of mind as follows:

Sections 551.143 and 551.144 of the Government Code establish criminal sanctions for certain conduct in violation of the provisions making meetings of governmental bodies accessible to the public. A member of a governmental body must be found to have acted "knowingly" to be found guilty of either of these offenses.

Section 551.143 provides as follows:

Section 551.144 provides as follows:

Section 551.144(c) was adopted by the 76th Legislature in 1999.(227) In 1998, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had determined in Tovar v. State,(228) that a government official who knowingly participated in an impermissible closed meeting may be found guilty of violating the act even though he did not know that the meeting was prohibited under the act. There was no statutory good faith exception to the act.(229) Subsection 551.144(c) now provides an affirmative defense to prosecution under subsection (a) if the member of the governmental body acted in reasonable reliance on a court order or a legal opinion as set out in subsection (c).

District courts have original jurisdiction over criminal violations of the Open Meetings Act as misdemeanors involving official misconduct.(230)


D. No Attorney General Enforcement Role

The attorney general is not authorized by the Open Meetings Act to interpret or enforce its provisions. Other state statutes authorize the attorney general to issue legal opinions on the request of certain public officers, and in accordance with those provisions, the attorney general may address and resolve questions of law arising under the Open Meetings Act.(231) However, the attorney general is not able to resolve questions of fact in the opinion process.(232) Therefore, whether a particular governmental body has violated the Open Meetings Act on a specific occasion is a question that may not be determined by attorney general opinion.(233)


IX. Open Meetings Act and Other Statutes


A. Public Information Act

Although the Open Meetings Act and the Public Information Act(234) both serve the purpose of making government accessible to the people, they work differently to accomplish this goal. The two statutes define "governmental body" differently, and each statute contains a different set of exceptions.(235) The Public Information Act authorizes the attorney general to determine whether records of a governmental body requested by a member of the public may be withheld and to enforce his rulings by writ of mandamus.(236) The Open Meetings Act, on the other hand, has no comparable provisions. (For further discussion of this point, refer to part VIII.B of this handbook.)

In addition, the exceptions to one statute are not implicitly incorporated into the other statute. The mere fact that a document was discussed in an executive session does not make it confidential under the Public Information Act.(237) Nor does the Public Information Act authorize a governmental body to hold an executive session to discuss records merely because the records are within one of the exceptions to the Public Information Act.(238) (For further discussion of this point, refer to part VI.D of this handbook.) Some rulings of the Office of the Attorney General have treated the exceptions to one statute as incorporated into the other.(239) However, these decisions have been expressly or implicitly overruled. See Section VI, D. of this handbook.


B. Administrative Procedure Act

The Administrative Procedure Act (the "APA") establishes "minimum standards of uniform practice and procedure for state agencies" in the rulemaking process and in the hearing and resolution of contested cases.(240) The state agencies subject to the APA are as a rule also subject to the Open Meetings Act.(241) The decision-making process under the APA is not excepted from the requirements of the Open Meetings Act.(242)

The APA, however, creates at least one specific exception to the requirements of the Open Meetings Act with regard to contested cases. A governmental body may consider a claim of privilege in a closed meeting when (1) the claim is made during a contested case proceeding under the APA, and (2) the resolution of the claim requires the examination and discussion of the allegedly privileged information.(243) Although the Open Meetings Act does not authorize a closed session for this purpose, the APA incorporates certain rules of evidence and of civil procedure, including the requirement that claims of privilege or confidentiality be determined in a nonpublic forum.(244) This office concluded that the legislature must have intended the broad public meetings requirements of the Open Meetings Act to yield in this narrow circumstance where a subsequently enacted statute specifically directs that particular meetings be closed to the public.(245)

The APA does not, on the other hand, create exceptions to the requirements of the Open Meetings Act when the two statutes can be harmonized. In Acker v. Texas Water Commission,(246) the Texas Supreme Court concluded that the statutory predecessor to section 2001.061 of the Government Code did not authorize a quorum of the members of a governmental body to confer in private regarding a contested case. Section 2001.061(b) provides in pertinent part: "A state agency member may communicate ex parte with another member of the agency . . . ." The court concluded that, when harmonized with the provisions of the Open Meetings Act, this section permits a state agency's members to confer ex parte, but only when less than a quorum is present.(247)


C. The Americans with Disabilities Act

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the "ADA")(248) prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals in the activities, services, and programs of public entities. All the activities of state and local governmental bodies are covered by the ADA, including meetings. Therefore, governmental bodies subject to the Open Meetings Act must also ensure that their meetings comply with the ADA.(249)

For purposes of the ADA, an individual is an individual with a disability if he or she meets one of three tests. Under the first test, the individual must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the individual's major life activities. Under the second test, an individual is disabled if he or she has a record of having this type of physical or mental impairment. Finally, under the third test, an individual is disabled if he or she is regarded by others as having this type of impairment.(250)

To conduct meetings that comply with the ADA, a governmental body must consider accessibility. A governmental body may not exclude a disabled individual from participation in the activities of the governmental body because the facilities are physically inaccessible.(251) Therefore, the meeting room in which a public meeting is held must be physically accessible to individuals with disabilities.(252) In addition, according to at least one court, the time of a meeting may make it inaccessible to disabled individuals. In Dees v. Austin Travis County Mental Health & Mental Retardation,(253) the court held that the board of trustees of the Austin Travis County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center violated the ADA by scheduling its regular board meetings at 7:00 a.m.(254) The court found that the plaintiff had a mental illness that required her to take medication with a sedative side effect. Because of this sedative side effect, the plaintiff's ability to function was limited, particularly in the morning hours before 10:00 a.m.(255) Thus, the court concluded that, by holding their meetings early in the morning, the board of trustees made the meetings inaccessible to the plaintiff and others like her who have early morning sedative effects from medication.(256)

A governmental body must also ensure that communications with disabled individuals are as effective as communications with others.(257) Thus, a governmental body must take steps to ensure that disabled individuals have access to and can understand the contents of the meeting notice and to ensure that they can understand what is happening at the meeting. This duty includes furnishing appropriate auxiliary aids and services when necessary.(258)


Appendix A: Text of the Texas Open Meetings Act


GOVERNMENT CODE CHAPTER 551. OPEN MEETINGS


SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

551.001. Definitions

In this chapter:

551.0015. Certain Property Owners' Associations Subject to Law

(a) A property owners' association is subject to this chapter in the same manner as a governmental body if:

(b) The governing body of the association, a committee of the association, and members of the governing body or of a committee of the association are subject to this chapter in the same manner as the governing body of a governmental body, a committee of a governmental body, and members of the governing body or of a committee of the governmental body.

551.002. Open Meetings Requirement

Every regular, special, or called meeting of a governmental body shall be open to the public, except as provided by this chapter.

551.003. Legislature

In this chapter, the legislature is exercising its powers to adopt rules to prohibit secret meetings of the legislature, committees of the legislature, and other bodies associated with the legislature, except as specifically permitted in the constitution.

551.004. Open Meetings Required by Charter

This chapter does not authorize a governmental body to close a meeting that a charter of the governmental body:


SUBCHAPTER B. RECORD OF OPEN MEETING

551.021. Minutes or Tape Recording of Open Meeting Required

(a) A governmental body shall prepare and keep minutes or make a tape recording of each open meeting of the body.

(b) The minutes must:

551.022. Minutes and Tape Recordings of Open Meeting: Public Record

The minutes and tape recordings of an open meeting are public records and shall be available for public inspection and copying on request to the governmental body's chief administrative officer or the officer's designee.

551.023. Recording of Meeting by Person in Attendance

(a) A person in attendance may record all or any part of an open meeting of a governmental body by means of a tape recorder, video camera, or other means of aural or visual reproduction.

(b) A governmental body may adopt reasonable rules to maintain order at a meeting, including rules relating to:

(c) A rule adopted under Subsection (b) may not prevent or unreasonably impair a person from exercising a right granted under Subsection (a).


SUBCHAPTER C. NOTICE OF MEETINGS

551.041. Notice of Meeting Required

A governmental body shall give written notice of the date, hour, place, and subject of each meeting held by the governmental body.

551.042. Inquiry Made at Meeting

(a) If, at a meeting of a governmental body, a member of the public or of the governmental body inquires about a subject for which notice has not been given as required by this subchapter, the notice provisions of this subchapter do not apply to:

(b) Any deliberation of or decision about the subject of the inquiry shall be limited to a proposal to place the subject on the agenda for a subsequent meeting.

551.043. Time and Accessibility of Notice; General Rule

The notice of a meeting of a governmental body must be posted in a place readily accessible to the general public at all times for at least 72 hours before the scheduled time of the meeting, except as provided by Sections 551.044-551.046.

551.044. Exception to General Rule: Governmental Body With Statewide Jurisdiction

(a) The secretary of state must post notice on the Internet of a meeting of a state board, commission, department, or officer having statewide jurisdiction for at least seven days before the day of the meeting. The secretary of state shall provide during regular office hours a computer terminal at a place convenient to the public in the office of the secretary of state that members of the public may use to view notices of meetings posted by the secretary of state.

(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to:

551.045. Exception to General Rule: Notice of Emergency Meeting or Emergency Addition to Agenda

(a) In an emergency or when there is an urgent public necessity, the notice of a meeting or the supplemental notice of a subject added as an item to the agenda for a meeting for which notice has been posted in accordance with this subchapter is sufficient if it is posted for at least two hours before the meeting is convened.

(b) An emergency or an urgent public necessity exists only if immediate action is required of a governmental body because of:

(c) the governmental body shall clearly identify the emergency or urgent public necessity in the notice or supplemental notice under this section.

(d) A person who is designated or authorized to post notice of a meeting by a governmental body under this subchapter shall post the notice taking at face value the governmental body's stated reason for the emergency or urgent public necessity.

551.046. Exception to General Rule: Committee of Legislature

The notice of a legislative committee meeting shall be as provided by the rules of the house of representatives or of the senate.

551.047. Special Notice to News Media of Emergency Meeting or Emergency Addition to Agenda

(a) The presiding officer of a governmental body, or the member of a governmental body who calls an emergency meeting of the governmental body or adds an emergency item to the agenda of a meeting of the governmental body, shall notify the news media of the emergency meeting or emergency item as required by this section.

(b) The presiding officer or member is required to notify only those members of the news media that have previously:

(c) The presiding officer or member shall give the notice by telephone or telegraph.

551.048. State Governmental Body: Notice to Secretary of State;

Place of Posting Notice

(a) A state governmental body shall provide notice of each meeting to the secretary of state.

(b) The secretary of state shall post the notice on the Internet. The secretary of state shall provide during regular office hours a computer terminal at a place convenient to the public in the office of the secretary of state that members of the public may use to view the notice.

551.049. County Governmental Body: Place of Posting Notice

A county governmental body shall post notice of each meeting on a bulletin board at a place convenient to the public in the county courthouse.

551.050. Municipal Governmental Body: Place of Posting Notice

A municipal governmental body shall post notice of each meeting on a bulletin board at a place convenient to the public in the city hall.

551.051. School District: Place of Posting Notice

A school district shall post notice of each meeting on a bulletin board at a place convenient to the public in the central administrative office of the district.

551.052. School District: Special Notice to News Media

(a) A school district shall provide special notice of each meeting to any news media that has:

(b) The notice shall be by telephone or telegraph.

551.053. District or Political Subdivision Extending Into Four or More Counties: Notice to Public, Secretary of State, and County Clerk; Place of Posting Notice

(a) The governing body of a water district or other district or political subdivision that extends into four or more counties shall:

(b) The secretary of state shall post the notice provided under Subsection (a)(2) on the Internet. The secretary of state shall provide during regular office hours a computer terminal at a place convenient to the public in the office of the secretary of state that members of the public may use to view the notice.

(c) A county clerk shall post the notice provided under Subsection (a)(3) on a bulletin board at a place convenient to the public in the county courthouse.

551.054. District or Political Subdivision Extending Into Fewer Than Four Counties: Notice to Public and County Clerks; Place of Posting Notice

(a) The governing body of a water district or other district or political subdivision that extends into fewer than four counties shall:

(b) A county clerk shall post the notice provided under Subsection (a)(2) on a bulletin board at a place convenient to the public in the county courthouse.

551.055. Institution of Higher Education

In addition to providing any other notice required by this subchapter, the governing board of a single institution of higher education;


SUBCHAPTER D. EXCEPTIONS TO REQUIREMENT THAT MEETINGS BE OPEN.

551.071. Consultation With Attorney; Closed Meeting

A governmental body may not conduct a private consultation with its attorney except:

551.072. Deliberation Regarding Real Property; Closed Meeting

A governmental body may conduct a closed meeting to deliberate the purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property if deliberation in an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the position of the governmental body in negotiations with a third person.

551.073. Deliberation Regarding Prospective Gift; Closed Meeting

A governmental body may conduct a closed meeting to deliberate a negotiated contract for a prospective gift or donation to the state or the governmental body if deliberation in an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the position of the governmental body in negotiations with a third person.

551.074. Personnel Matters; Closed Meeting

(a) This chapter does not require a governmental body to conduct an open meeting:

(b) Subsection (a) does not apply if the officer or employee who is the subject of the deliberation or hearing requests a public hearing.

551.0745. Personnel Matters Affecting County Advisory Body: Closed Meeting

(a) This chapter does not require the commissioners court of a county to conduct an open meeting:

(b) Subsection (a) does not apply if the individual who is the subject of the deliberation or hearing requests a public hearing.

551.075. Conference Relating to Investments and Potential Investments Attended by Board of Trustees of Texas Growth Fund; Closed Meeting.

(a) This chapter does not require the board of trustees of the Texas growth fund to confer with one or more employees of the Texas growth fund or with a third party in an open meeting if the only purpose of the conference is to:

(b) During a conference under Subsection (a), members of the board of trustees of the Texas growth fund may not deliberate public business or agency policy that affects public business.

(c) In this section, "Texas growth fund" means the fund created by Section 70, Article XVI, Texas Constitution.

551.076. Deliberation Regarding Security Devices; Closed Meeting

This chapter does not require a governmental body to conduct an open meeting to deliberate the deployment, or specific occasions for implementation, of security personnel or devices.

551.077. Agency Financed by Federal Government

This chapter does not require an agency financed entirely by federal money to conduct an open meeting.

551.078. Medical Board or Medical Committee

This chapter does not require a medical board or medical committee to conduct an open meeting to deliberate the medical or psychiatric records of an individual applicant for a disability benefit from a public retirement system.

551.079. State Board of Insurance

(a) The requirements of this chapter do not apply to a meeting of the State Board of Insurance in the discharge of responsibilities to regulate and maintain the solvency of a person regulated by the board.

(b) The board may deliberate and determine the appropriate action to be taken concerning the solvency of a person regulated by the board in a closed meeting with persons in one or more of the following categories:

551.080. Board of Pardons and Paroles

This chapter does not require the Board of Pardons and Paroles to conduct an open meeting to interview or counsel an inmate of a facility of the institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

551.081. Credit Union Commission

This chapter does not require the Credit Union Commission to conduct an open meeting to deliberate a matter made confidential by law.

551.082. School Children; School District Employees; Disciplinary Matter or Complaint

(a) This chapter does not require a school board to conduct an open meeting to deliberate in a case:

(b) Subsection (a) does not apply if an open hearing is requested in writing by a parent or guardian of the child or by the employee against whom the complaint or charge is brought.

551.083. Certain School Boards; Closed Meeting Regarding Consultation With Representative of Employee Group

This chapter does not require a school board operating under a consultation agreement authorized by Section 13.901, Education Code, to conduct an open meeting to deliberate the standards, guidelines, terms, or conditions the board will follow, or instruct its representatives to follow, in a consultation with a representative of an employee group.

551.084. Investigation; Exclusion of Witness From Hearing

A governmental body that is investigating a matter may exclude a witness from a hearing during the examination of another witness in the investigation.

551.085. Governing Board of Certain Providers of Health Care Services

This chapter does not require the governing board of a municipal hospital, municipal hospital authority, hospital district created under general or special law, or nonprofit health maintenance organization created under Section 534.101, Health and Safety Code, to conduct an open meeting to deliberate:

[Text of section 551.086 as added by Act of May 19, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 312, 1, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 1217 (Vernon)]

551.086. Deliberations Regarding Test Item

This chapter does not require a governmental body to conduct an open meeting to deliberate a test item or information related to a test item if the governmental body believes that the test item may be included in a test the governmental body administers to individuals who seek to obtain or renew a license or certificate that is necessary to engage in an activity.

[Text of section 551.086 as added by Act of May 27, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 405, 45, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 2543, 2617-18 (Vernon)]

551.086. Certain Public Power Utilities: Competitive Matters

(a) Notwithstanding anything in this chapter to the contrary, the rules provided by this section apply to competitive matters of a public power utility.

(b) In this section:

(c) This chapter does not require a public power utility governing body to conduct an open meeting to deliberate, vote, or take final action on any competitive matter, as that term is defined in Subsection (b)(3). Before a public power utility governing body may deliberate, vote, or take final action on any competitive matter in a closed meeting, the public power utility governing body must first make a good faith determination, by majority vote of its members, that the matter is a competitive matter that satisfies the requirements of Subsection (b)(3). The vote shall be taken during the closed meeting and be included in the certified agenda or tape recording of the closed meeting. If a public power utility governing body fails to determine by that vote that the matter satisfies the requirements of Subsection (b)(3), the public power utility governing body may not deliberate or take any further action on the matter in the closed meeting. This section does not limit the right of a public power utility governing body to hold a closed session under any other exception provided for in this chapter.

(d) For purposes of Section 551.041, the notice of the subject matter of an item that may be considered as a competitive matter under this section is required to contain no more than a general representation of the subject matter to be considered, such that the competitive activity of the public power utility with respect to the issue in question is not compromised or disclosed.

(e) With respect to municipally owned utilities subject to this section, this section shall apply whether or not the municipally owned utility has adopted customer choice or serves in a multiply certificated service area under the Utilities Code.

(f) Nothing in this section is intended to preclude the application of the enforcement and remedies provisions of Subchapter G.

[Text of section 551.086 as added by Act of May 25, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 1319, 32, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 4500, 4513 (Vernon)]

551.086: Deliberation Regarding Economic Development Negotiations; Closed Meeting

This chapter does not require a governmental body to conduct an open meeting:


SUBCHAPTER E. PROCEDURES RELATING TO CLOSED MEETING

551.101. Requirement to First Convene in Open Meeting

If a closed meeting is allowed under this chapter, a governmental body may not conduct the closed meeting unless a quorum of the governmental body first convenes in an open meeting for which notice has been given as provided by this chapter and during which the presiding officer publicly:

551.102. Requirement to Vote or Take Final Action in Open Meeting

A final action, decision, or vote on a matter deliberated in a closed meeting under this chapter may only be made in an open meeting that is held in compliance with the notice provisions of this chapter.

551.103. Certified Agenda or Tape Recording Required

(a) A governmental body shall either keep a certified agenda or make a tape recording of the proceedings of each closed meeting, except for a private consultation permitted under Section 551.071.

(b) The presiding officer shall certify that an agenda kept under Subsection (a) is a true and correct record of the proceedings.

(c) The certified agenda must include:

(d) A tape recording made under Subsection (a) must include announcements by the presiding officer at the beginning and the end of the meeting indicating the date and time.

551.104. Certified Agenda or Tape; Preservation; Disclosure

(a) A governmental body shall preserve the certified agenda or tape recording of a closed meeting for at least two years after the date of the meeting. If an action involving the meeting is brought within that period, the governmental body shall preserve the certified agenda or tape while the action is pending.

(b) In litigation in a district court involving an alleged violation of this chapter, the court:

(c) The certified agenda or tape of a closed meeting is available for public inspection and copying only under a court order issued under Subsection (b)(3).


SUBCHAPTER F. MEETINGS USING TELEPHONE, VIDEOCONFERENCE, OR INTERNET

551.121. Governing Board of Institution of Higher Education

(a) In this section, "governing board," "institution of higher education," and "university system" have the meanings assigned by Section 61.003, Education Code.

(b) This chapter does not prohibit the governing board of an institution of higher education from holding an open or closed meeting by telephone conference call.

(c) A meeting held by telephone conference call may be held only if:

(d) The telephone conference call meeting is subject to the notice requirements applicable to other meetings.

(e) The notice of the telephone conference call meeting must specify as the location of the meeting the location where meetings of the governing board are usually held. For a meeting of the governing board of a university system, the notice must specify as the location of the meeting the board's conference room at the university system office.

(f) Each part of the telephone conference call meeting that is required to be open to the public shall be audible to the public at the location specified in the notice of the meeting as the location of the meeting and shall be tape recorded. The tape recording shall be made available to the public.

[ 551.122. Texas High-Speed Rail Authority - Repealed]

551.123. Texas Board of Criminal Justice

(a) The Texas Board of Criminal Justice may hold an open or closed emergency meeting by telephone conference call.

(b) The portion of the telephone conference call meeting that is open shall be recorded. The recording shall be made available to be heard by the public at one or more places designated by the board.

551.124. Board of Pardons and Paroles

At the call of the presiding officer of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, the board may hold a hearing on clemency matters by telephone conference call.

551.125. Other Governmental Body

(a) Except as otherwise provided by this subchapter, this chapter does not prohibit a governmental body from holding an open or closed meeting by telephone conference call.

(b) A meeting held by telephone conference call may be held only if:

(c) The telephone conference call meeting is subject to the notice requirements applicable to other meetings.

(d) The notice of the telephone conference call meeting must specify as the location of the meeting the location where meetings of the governmental body are usually held.

(e) Each part of the telephone conference call meeting that is required to be open to the public shall be audible to the public at the location specified in the notice of the meeting as the location of the meeting and shall be tape-recorded. The tape recording shall be made available to the public.

(f) The location designated in the notice as the location of the meeting shall provide two-way communication during the entire telephone conference call meeting and the identification of each party to the telephone conference shall be clearly stated prior to speaking.

551.126. Higher Education Coordination Board

(a) In this section, "board," means the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

(b) The board may hold an open meeting by telephone conference call or video conference call in order to consider a higher education impact statement if the preparation of a higher education impact statement by the board is to be provided under the rules of either the house of representatives or the senate.

(c)A meeting held by telephone conference call must comply with the procedures described in Section 551.125.

(d) A meeting held by video conference call is subject to the notice requirements applicable to other meetings. In addition, a meeting held by video conference call shall:

551.127. Videoconference Call

(a) Except as otherwise provided by this section, this chapter does not prohibit a governmental body from holding an open or closed meeting by videoconference call.

(b) A meeting may be held by videoconference call only if a quorum of the governmental body is physically present at one location of the meeting.

(c) A meeting held by videoconference call is subject to the notice requirements applicable to other meetings in addition to the notice requirements prescribed by this section.

(d) The notice of a meeting to be held by videoconference call must specify as a location of the meeting the location where a quorum of the governmental body will be physically present and specify the intent to have a quorum present at that location. In addition, the notice of the meeting must specify as a location of the meeting each other location where a member of the governmental body who will participate in the meeting will be physically present during the meeting. Each of the locations shall be open to the public during the open portions of the meeting.

(e) Each portion of a meeting held by videoconference call that is required to be open to the public shall be visible and audible to the public at each location specified under Subsection (d).

(f) The governmental body shall make at least an audio recording of the meeting. The recording shall be made available to the public.

(g) Each location specified under Subsection (d) shall have two-way communication with each other location during the entire meeting. Each participant in the videoconference call, while speaking, shall be clearly visible and audible to each other participant and, during the open portion of the meeting, to the members of the public in attendance at a location of the meeting.

(h) The Department of Information Resources by rule shall specify minimum standards for audio and video signals at a meeting held by videoconference call. The quality of the audio and video signals perceptible at each location of the meeting must meet or exceed those standards.

(i) The quality of the audio and video signals perceptible by members of the public at each location of the meeting must:

(j) Without regard to whether a member of the governmental body is participating in a meeting from a remote location by videoconference call, a governmental body may allow a member of the public to testify at a meeting from a remote location by videoconference call.

551.128. Internet Broadcast of Open Meeting

(a) In this section, "Internet" means the largest nonproprietary cooperative public computer network, popularly known as the Internet.

(b) Subject to the requirements of this section, a governmental body may broadcast an open meeting over the Internet.

(c) A governmental body that broadcasts a meeting over the Internet shall establish an Internet site and provide access to the broadcast from that site. The governmental body shall provide on the Internet site the same notice of the meeting that the governmental body is required to post under Subchapter C. The notice on the Internet must be posted within the time required for posting notice under Subchapter C.


SUBCHAPTER G. ENFORCEMENT AND REMEDIES; CRIMINAL VIOLATIONS

551.141. Action Voidable

An action taken by a governmental body in violation of this chapter is voidable.

551.142. Mandamus; Injunction

(a) An interested person, including a member of the news media, may bring an action by mandamus or injunction to stop, prevent, or reverse a violation or threatened violation of this chapter by members of a governmental body.

(b) The court may assess costs of litigation and reasonable attorney fees incurred by a plaintiff or defendant who substantially prevails in an action under Subsection (a). In exercising its discretion, the court shall consider whether the action was brought in good faith and whether the conduct of the governmental body had a reasonable basis in law.

551.143. Conspiracy to Circumvent Chapter; Offense; Penalty

(a) A member or group of members of a governmental body commits an offense if the member or group of members knowingly conspires to circumvent this chapter by meeting in numbers less than a quorum for the purpose of secret deliberations in violation of this chapter.

(b) An offense under Subsection (a) is a misdemeanor punishable by:

551.144. Closed Meeting; Offense; Penalty

(a) A member of a governmental body commits an offense if a closed meeting is not permitted under this chapter and the member knowingly:

(b) An offense under Subsection (a) is a misdemeanor punishable by:

(c) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (a) that the member of the governmental body acted in reasonable reliance on a court order or a written interpretation of this chapter contained in an opinion of a court of record, the attorney general, or the attorney for the governmental body.

551.145. Closed Meeting Without Certified Agenda or Tape Recording; Offense; Penalty

(a) A member of a governmental body commits an offense if the member participates in a closed meeting of the governmental body knowing that a certified agenda of the closed meeting is not being kept or that a tape recording of the closed meeting is not being made.

(b) An offense under Subsection (a) is a Class C misdemeanor.

551.146. Disclosure of Certified Agenda or Tape Recording of Closed Meeting; Offense; Penalty; Civil Liability

(a) An individual, corporation, or partnership that without lawful authority knowingly discloses to a member of the public the certified agenda or tape recording of a meeting that was lawfully closed to the public under this chapter:

(b) An offense under Subsection (a)(1) is a Class B misdemeanor.

(c) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(1) and an affirmative defense to a civil action under Subsection (a)(2) that:



Appendix B: Index of Cases

The page numbers below correspond to the hard copy of the handbook but are linked to the appropriate section in the online version.



Acker v. Texas Water Comm'n, 790 S.W.2d 299 (Tex. 1990)

18, 69


Austin Transp. Study Policy Advisory Comm. v. Sierra Club, 843 S.W.2d 683 Tex. App. - Austin 1992, writ denied)

58


Bay Ridge Util. Dist. v. 4M Laundry, 717 S.W.2d 92 (Tex. App. - Houston [1st Dist.] 1986, writ ref'd n.r.e.)

21


Board of Trustees v. Cox Enters., Inc., 679 S.W.2d 86 (Tex. App. - Texarkana 1984), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 706 S.W.2d 956 (Tex. 1986)

35, 36, 37, 40, 42, 58


Bowen v. Calallen Indep. Sch. Dist, 603 S.W.2d 229 (Tex. Civ. App. - Corpus Christi 1980,
writ ref'd n.r.e.)

42, 43


Cameron County Good Gov't League v. Ramon, 619 S.W.2d 224 (Tex. Civ. App. - Beaumont 1981,
writ ref'd n.r.e.)

30, 58


Charlie Thomas Ford, Inc. v. A.C. Collins Ford, Inc., 912 S.W.2d 271 (Tex. App. - Austin 1995,
writ dism'd)

20, 21


City of Austin v. Evans, 794 S.W.2d 78 (Tex. App. - Austin 1990, no writ)

7


City of Bells v. Greater Texoma Util. Auth., 744 S.W.2d 636 (Tex. App. - Dallas 1987,
no writ)

60


City of Dallas v. Parker, 737 S.W.2d 845 (Tex. App. - Dallas 1987, no writ)

35, 42


City of Fort Worth v. Groves, 746 S.W.2d 907 (Tex. App. - Fort Worth 1988, no writ)

27, 58


City of San Antonio v. Aguilar, 670 S.W.2d 681 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1984, writ

34


City of San Antonio v. Fourth Court of Appeals, 820 S.W.2d 762 (Tex. 1991)

18, 19, 26, 27


City of Stephenville v. Texas Parks & Wildlife Dep't, 940 S.W.2d 667 (Tex. App. - Austin 1996, writ denied)

34


Coates v. Windham, 613 S.W.2d 572 (Tex. Civ. App. - Austin 1981, no writ)

60


Collin County v. Homeowners Ass'n, 716 F. Supp. 953 (N.D. Tex. 1989)

19, 60


Corpus Christi Classroom Teachers Ass'n v. Corpus Christi Indep. Sch. Dist., 535 S.W.2d 429 (Tex. Civ. App. - Corpus Christi 1976, no writ)

42


Cox Enters., Inc. v. Board of Trustees, 706 S.W.2d 956 (Tex. 1986)

17, 19, 27, 31, 36, 37


Creedmoor Maha Water Supply Corp. v. Barton Springs-Edwards Aquifer Conservation Dist., 784 S.W.2d 79 (Tex. App. - Austin 1989, writ denied)

29


Dallas County Flood Control Dist. No. 1 v. Cross, 815 S.W.2d 271 (Tex. App. - Dallas 1991,writ denied)

41, 61


Dallas Morning News Co. v. Board of Trustees, 861 S.W.2d 532 (Tex. App. - Dallas 1993, writ denied)

11, 13


Dees v. Austin Travis County Mental Health & Mental Retardation, 860 F. Supp. 1186 (W.D. Tex. 1994)

70


Elizondo v. Williams, 643 S.W.2d 765 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1982, no writ)

15


Equal Employment Opportunity Comm'n v. City of Orange, 905 F. Supp. 381 (E.D. Tex. 1995)

56


Faulder v. Texas Bd. of Pardons & Paroles, 990 S.W.2d 944, 946 (Tex. App. - Austin 1999, pet. filed)

1


Ferris v. Texas Bd. of Chiropractic Examiners, 808 S.W.2d 514 (Tex. App. - Austin 1991, writ denied)

59, 61


Fielding v. Anderson, 911 S.W.2d 858 (Tex. App. - Eastland 1995, writ denied)

1, 27


Finlan v. City of Dallas, 888 F. Supp. 779, 787 (N.D. Tex. 1995)

14, 40


Forney Messenger, Inc. v. Tennon, 959 F. Supp. 389 (N.D. Tex. 1997)

57


Garcia v. City of Kingsville, 641 S.W.2d 339 (Tex. App. - Corpus Christi 1982, no writ)

30


Gulf Reg'l Educ. Television Affiliates v. University of Houston, 746 S.W.2d 803 (Tex. App. - Houston [14th Dist.] 1988, writ denied)

6, 34


Hitt v. Mabry, 687 S.W.2d 791 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1985, no writ)

14


James v. Hitchcock Indep. Sch. Dist., 742 S.W.2d 701 (Tex. App. - Houston [1st Dist.] 1987, writ denied)

43


Lone Star Greyhound Park, Inc. v. Texas Racing Comm'n, 863 S.W.2d 742 (Tex. App. - Austin 1993, writ denied)

19, 38, 39


Lower Colorado River Auth. v. City of San Marcos, 523 S.W.2d 641 (Tex. 1975)

19, 20, 61


Markowski v. City of Marlin, 940 S.W.2d 720 (Tex. App. - Waco 1997, writ denied)

30


Martin v. Victoria Indep. Sch. Dist., 972 S.W.2d 815 (Tex. App. - Corpus Christi 1998, pet. denied)

57


Martinez v. State, 879 S.W.2d 54 (Tex. Crim. App. 1994)

31, 37, 65


Mayes v. City of De Leon, 922 S.W.2d 200 (Tex. App. - Eastland 1996, writ denied)

19


Nash v. Civil Serv. Comm'n, 864 S.W.2d 163 (Tex. App. - Tyler 1993, no writ)

35


Parr v. State, 743 S.W.2d 268 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1987, writ denied)

20


Piazza v. City of Granger, 909 S.W.2d 529 (Tex. App. - Austin 1995, no writ)

30


Point Isabel Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Hinojosa, 797 S.W.2d 176 (Tex. App. - Corpus Christi 1990, writ denied)

17, 19, 60


Porth v. Morgan, 622 S.W.2d 470 (Tex. App. - Tyler 1981, writ ref'd n.r.e.)

17, 61


Rettberg v. Texas Dep't of Health, 873 S.W.2d 408 (Tex. App. - Austin 1994, no writ)

18, 20


Rivera v. City of Laredo, 948 S.W.2d 787 (Tex. App. - San Antonio1997, writ denied)

30, 58


River Rd. Neighborhood Ass'n v. South Tex. Sports, 720 S.W.2d 551 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1986, writ dism'd)

21, 29, 30


Save Our Springs Alliance, Inc. v. Austin Indep. Sch. Dist., 973 S.W.2d 378, 382 (Tex. App. - Austin 1998, no pet.)

41


Save Our Springs Alliance, Inc. v. Lowry, 934 S.W.2d 161 (Tex. App. - Austin 1996, orig. proceeding [leave denied])

58


Shackelford v. City of Abilene, 585 S.W.2d 665 (Tex. 1979)

50


Sierra Club v. Austin Transp. Study Policy Advisory Comm., 746 S.W.2d 298 (Tex. App - Austin 1988, writ denied)

7, 25


Smith County v. Thornton, 726 S.W.2d 2 (Tex. 1986)

25, 27


Spiller v. Texas Dep't of Ins., 949 S.W.2d 548 (Tex. App. - Austin 1997, writ denied)

34


State v. Williams, 780 S.W.2d 891 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1989, no pet.)

66


Stockdale v. Meno, 867 S.W.2d 123 (Tex. App. - Austin 1993, writ denied)

18, 19


Swate v. Medina Community Hosp., 966 S.W.2d 693 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1998, pet. denied)

17, 34, 42


Texas Turnpike Auth. v. City of Fort Worth, 554 S.W.2d 675 (Tex. 1977)

20


Thompson v. City of Austin, 979 S.W.2d 676, 684 (Tex. App. - Austin 1998, no pet.)

43


Tovar v. State, 978 S.W.2d 584 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998)

65


Toyah Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Pecos-Barstow Indep. Sch. Dist., 466 S.W.2d 377 (Tex. Civ. App. - San Antonio 1971, no writ)

34, 60


Tyler v. City of Manhattan, 849 F. Supp. 1429 (D. Kan. 1994)

69


United Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Gonzalez, 911 S.W.2d 118 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1995), writ denied, 940 S.W.2d 593 (Tex. 1996) (per curiam)

46


Webster v. Texas & Pac. Motor Transp. Co., 166 S.W.2d 75 (Tex. 1942)

1, 33



Footnotes

1. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. ch. 551 (Vernon 1994 & Supp. 1999).

2. For purposes of this handbook the terms "closed meeting," "closed session," and "executive session" are used interchangeably. See id. 551.001(1) (Vernon 1994) (revisor's note).

3. See Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. DM-473 (1998); DM-228 (1993); JM-63 (1983); MW-32 (1979).

4. See Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. DM-228 (1993) (addressing commissioners court's adoption of provisions of Robert's Rules of Order to govern conduct of meetings).

5. See Fielding v. Anderson, 911 S.W.2d 858, 863 (Tex. App. - Eastland 1996, writ denied); Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. DM-95 (1992).

6. The legislature may adopt legislation changing the common-law rule. See Faulder v. Texas Bd. of Pardons & Paroles, 990 S.W.2d 944, 946 (Tex. App. - Austin 1999, pet. filed) (Board of Pardons and Paroles authorized by section 508.047(b) of the Government Code to perform duties in clemency matters without meeting face-to-face as a body).

7. 166 S.W.2d 75 (Tex. 1942).

8. Id. at 76-77.

9. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JM-903 (1988).

10. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 311.013 (Vernon 1998); see also id. 312.001 (construction of civil statutes).

11. Id. 551.001(6).

12. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. DM-160 (1992).

13. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JM-903 (1988) at 4.

14. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.001(3) (Vernon 1994); see also id.  551.077 (act does not require agencies financed entirely by federal funds to conduct open meetings).

15. Act of May 26, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 1084, 1, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 3945 (Vernon).

16. Article VIII, section 20 of the Texas Constitution addresses the valuation of property for ad valorem tax purposes.

17. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.001(3)(D) (Vernon 1994).

18. Id. 551.001(3)(A); see also id.  551.003; Tex. Att'y Gen. LA-74-84 (application of Open Meetings Act to senate subcommittee of 63d Legislature).

19. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.001(4) (Vernon 1994) (definition of "meeting"); Gulf Reg'l Educ. Television Affiliates v. University of Houston, 746 S.W.2d 803, 809 (Tex. App. - Houston [14th Dist.] 1988, writ denied) (university auxiliary enterprise is governmental body because it is part of executive branch of government, it is under control of elected or appointed members, and it has control over public business); Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. DM-284 (1994) (governing bodies of certain insurance guaranty associations are governmental bodies within Open Meetings Act); JM-331 (1985) (citizens advisory panel of Office of Public Utility Counsel, with no power to supervise or control public business, is not governmental body); H-438 (1974) (University of Texas Athletic Council, as governmental body that supervises public business, must comply with Open Meetings Act).

20. See Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JM-740 (1987) (meeting of district judges to choose county auditor is not subject to Open Meetings Act). But see Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. DM-395 (1996) (committee of judges meeting to participate in management of community supervision and corrections department was a special district subject to act).

21. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.001(3)(D) (Vernon 1994).

22. See also Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-467 (1974) (city library board, a department or agency of the city, was not subject to the Open Meetings Act because it did not act in a quasi-judicial capacity or have rule-making power).

23. 794 S.W.2d 78 (Tex. App. - Austin 1990, no writ).

24. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.001(3)(H) (Vernon 1994).

25. 746 S.W.2d 298 (Tex. App. - Austin 1988, writ denied).

26. Id. at 301.

27. Id. (quoting Black's Law Dictionary 1253 (5th ed. 1986)).

28. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. DM-395 (1996); see also Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. DM- 426 (1996) at 4 (regional housing authority created under chapter 392 of the Local Government Code is a special district within the act); DM-7 (1991) (Parker County Committee on Aging is not a special district).

29. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. DM-7 (1991).

30. Tex. Att'y Gen. LO-93-55, at 3.

31. Tex. Att'y Gen. LO-98-61.

32. Tex. Gov't Code Ann.  551.002 (Vernon 1994).

33. Id. 551.001(4), as amended by Act of May 22, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 647, 1, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 3218 (Vernon).

34. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. H-772 (1976); H-438 (1974).

35. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. H-994 (1977) (committee appointed to study process of choosing university president and to make recommendations to board of regents is not subject to Open Meetings Act); H-772 (1976) (meeting of group of employees, such as general faculty of university, is not subject to Open Meetings Act); H-467 (1974) (city library board, which is advisory only, is not subject to Open Meetings Act).

36. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. H-467 (1974); H-438 (1974).

37. Act of May 22, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 647, 1, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 3218.

38. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-785 (1976); see Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.001(4) (Vernon 1994) ("meeting" does not include gathering of quorum at social function unrelated to governmental body's public business or attendance ofquorum at convention).

39. See Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. MW-390 (1981) (concerning "conference" meeting called and convened by district judge in his office, for purpose of presenting "possible alternatives and suggestions to combat the [county's] economic crisis," and attended by the county judge and two commissioners).

40. Act of May 8, 1967, 60th Leg., R.S., ch. 271, 1967 Tex. Gen. Laws 597, 598.

41. Dallas Morning News Co. v. Board of Trustees, 861 S.W.2d 532 (Tex. App. - Dallas 1993, writ denied).

42. Act of May 31, 1987, 70th Leg., R.S., ch. 549, 1, 1987 Tex. Gen. Laws 2211, 2212.

43. Id.

44. Id. 2.

45. Act of May 4, 1993, 73d Leg., R.S., ch. 268, 1, 1993 Tex. Gen. Laws 583, 590.

46. Act of May 31, 1987, 70th Leg., R.S., ch. 549, 2, 1987 Tex. Gen. Laws 2211, 2212.

47. Id.

48. The Texas Growth Fund is a trust fund established by article XVI, section 70 of the Texas Constitution to apply certain state funds to venture capital investments.

49. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.001(4), supra n.33.

50. 861 S.W.2d 532 (Tex. App. - Dallas 1993, writ denied).

51. Tex. Att'y Gen. LO-97-058, at 2; LO-97-017, at 5.

52. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JC-0060 (1999) at 2.

53. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. JC-0060 at 2; JC-0053 (1999) at 3; Tex. Att'y Gen. LO-97-058, at 2-3; LO-97-017, at 5.

54. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JC-0053 at 4.

55. Id.

56. See Finlan v. City of Dallas, 888 F. Supp. 779 (N.D. Tex. 1995); Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. JC-0060 (1999); H-438 (1974) at 3.

57. Tex. Att'y Gen Op. No. H-3 (1973) at 9; see also Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. JM-1072 (1989); H-824 (1976); H-238 (1974).

58. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-994 (1977).

59. See Hitt v. Mabry, 687 S.W.2d 791 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1985, no writ); Elizondo v. Williams, 643 S.W.2d 765 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1982, no writ).

60. Act of May 29, 1995, 74th Leg., R.S., ch. 1046, 1, 1995 Tex. Gen. Laws 5193.

61. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.125(b) (Vernon Supp. 1999).

62. Id. 551.121 - .126.

63. See Tex. Agric. Code Ann. 62.0021 (Vernon 1995 & Supp. 1999) (State Seed and Plant Board); Tex. Ins. Code Ann. arts. 9.48, 14(g) (Vernon Supp. 1999) (Texas Title Insurance Guaranty Association), 21.28-C, 8(k) (Texas Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association).

64. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. DM-207 (1993).

65. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.127, as renumbered by Act of Apr. 23, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 62, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 127, 415 (Vernon).

66. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.126 (Vernon Supp. 1999).

67. Act of May 3, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 100, 1, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 485 (Vernon) (to be codified at Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.128).

68. Id. 3.

69. Cox Enters., Inc. v. Board of Trustees, 706 S.W.2d 956, 958 (Tex. 1986); Porth v. Morgan, 622 S.W.2d 470 (Tex. App. - Tyler 1981, writ ref'd n.r.e.).

70. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JC-0057 (1999) at 5.

71. Id.

72. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.141 (Vernon 1994); Swate v. Medina Community Hosp., 966 S.W.2d 693, 699 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1998, pet. denied).

73. Point Isabel Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Hinojosa, 797 S.W.2d 176, 182-83 (Tex. App. - Corpus Christi 1990, writ denied).

74. 820 S.W.2d 762 (Tex. 1991).

75. Id. at 764.

76. Id.

77. Id. at 765 (quoting Acker v. Texas Water Comm'n, 790 S.W.2d 299, 300 (Tex. 1990)) (bracketed language added by City of San Antonio court); see also Rettberg v. Texas Dep't of Health, 873 S.W.2d 408 (Tex. App. - Austin 1994, no writ) (holding that Open Meetings Act does not entitle executive secretary of state agency to special notice of meeting where his employment was terminated); Stockdale v. Meno, 867 S.W.2d 123 (Tex. App. - Austin 1993, writ denied) (holding that Open Meetings Act does not entitle teacher whose contract was terminated to more specific notice than notice that would inform public at large).

78. City of San Antonio v. Fourth Court of Appeals, 820 S.W.2d at 766; Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-662 (1975) (stating public must be apprised in general terms of subjects to be addressed and that descriptions such as "old business," "new business," "regular or routine business," and "other business" are insufficient to inform public of nature of items to be addressed); cf. City of San Antonio, 820 S.W.2d at 777-83 (dissenting opinions of Justices Gonzalez, Mauzy, and Doggett disagreeing that notice of condemnation was sufficient).

79. 706 S.W.2d 956 (Tex. 1986).

80. Id. at 959.

81. Id.; see Collin County v. Homeowners Ass'n, 716 F. Supp. 953 (N.D. Tex. 1989), judgm't vacated and dism'd by 915 F.2d 167 (5th Cir. 1990) (holding "legal matters resulting from executive session" insufficient to describe proposed filing of lawsuit against homeowners group over sufficiency of environmental impact statement for controversial road); Lone Star Greyhound Park, Inc. v. Texas Racing Comm'n, 863 S.W.2d 742, 747 (Tex. App. - Austin 1993, writ denied) (indicating that notice need not list "the particulars of litigation discussions," which would defeat purpose of statutory predecessor to section 551.071 of Government Code); see also Mayes v. City of De Leon, 922 S.W.2d 200 (Tex. App. - Eastland 1996, writ denied) ("personnel" was not sufficient notice of termination of police chief); Stockdale, 867 S.W.2d at 124-25 (holding that "discussion of personnel" and "proposed nonrenewal of teaching contract" provided sufficient notice of nonrenewal of band director's contract); Point Isabel Indep. Sch. Dist., 797 S.W.2d 176 (holding that "employment of personnel" is insufficient to describe hiring of principals, but is sufficient for hiring school librarian, part-time counselor, band director, or school teacher); Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-1045 (1977) (holding "discussion of personnel changes" insufficient to describe selection of university system chancellor or university president).

82. 523 S.W.2d 641 (Tex. 1975).

83. 554 S.W.2d 675 (Tex. 1977).

84. Id. at 676.

85. See also Charlie Thomas Ford, Inc. v. A.C. Collins Ford, Inc., 912 S.W.2d 271, 274 (Tex. App. - Austin 1995, writ dism'd) (notice stating "Proposals for Decision and Other Actions--License and Other Cases" was sufficient to apprise public that Motor Vehicle Commission would consider proposals for decision in dealer-licensing cases).

86. Lower Colorado River Auth., 523 S.W.2d at 646.

87. See also Rettberg, 873 S.W.2d at 412 (holding that notice of meeting to "discuss the evaluation, designation, and duties of the board's executive secretary" would alert public that some action could occur relating to executive secretary's job); cf. Parr v. State, 743 S.W.2d 268 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1987, writ denied) (posted agenda for water district describing "budget" is insufficient to notify taxpayers of proposed increase in district taxes).

88. See River Rd. Neighborhood Ass'n v. South Tex. Sports, 720 S.W.2d 551 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1986, writ dism'd) (notice stating only "discussion" is insufficient to indicate board action is intended, given prior history of stating "discussion/action" in agenda when action is intended); Bay Ridge Util. Dist. v. 4M Laundry, 717 S.W.2d 92 (Tex. App. - Houston [lst Dist.] 1986, writ ref'd n.r.e.) (description "Amend Rate Order" in notice is sufficient to provide notice of consideration of industrial waste policy and rates for inclusion in rate order; facts showed that plaintiff was involved in negotiations with district concerning discharges and was fully aware of issue to be considered).

89. Act of May 27, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 405, 45, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 2543, 2617-18 (Vernon) (to be codified at Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.086(d)).

90. Notices of open meetings filed in the office of the secretary of state as provided by law are published in the Texas Register. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 2002.011(3) (Vernon 1999). Any insufficiency in timing or contents of notice as published in the Texas Register does not give rise to private rights under the Open Meetings Act. Charlie Thomas Ford, Inc., 912 S.W.2d at 274.

91. Act of May 22, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 622, 2, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 3168, 3169 (Vernon) (to be codified as an amendment to Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.048).

92. Act of May 22, 1999, supra n.91.

93. See also Tex. Gov't Code Ann.  551.046 (Vernon 1994) (notice of legislative committee meeting shall be as provided by house or senate rules).

94. Id. 551.141; Smith County v. Thornton, 726 S.W.2d 2 (Tex. 1986).

95. Sierra Club, 746 S.W.2d at 301.

96. See also Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JM-120 (1983) (industrial development corporation must post notice in same manner and location as political subdivision on whose behalf it was created).

97. This provision was amended by the 76th Legislature.

98. City of San Antonio v. Fourth Court of Appeals, 820 S.W.2d at 768 (quoting former Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 6252-17,  3A(h), now Tex. Gov't Code Ann.  551.043) (Vernon 1994) (emphasis added by court).

99. Id.; Smith County, 726 S.W.2d 2; City of Fort Worth v. Groves, 746 S.W.2d 907 (Tex. App. - Fort Worth 1988, no writ) (en banc) (addressing sufficiency of posting single notice); see also Fielding, 911 S.W.2d at 863 (notice for meeting of transit authority complied with Act, where copy posted in administrative office was accessible to public for full 72 hours of notice period, even though copy posted in courthouse was not accessible during entire 72 hours).

100. City of San Antonio v. Fourth Court of Appeals, 820 S.W.2d at 768.

101. Tex. Gov't Code Ann.  551.047 (Vernon 1994).

102. Id. 551.047(b).

103. See id.  551.045(c); Act of May 31, 1987, 70th Leg., R.S., ch. 549,  5, 1987 Tex. Gen. Laws 2211, 2213.

104. Creedmoor Maha Water Supply Corp. v. Barton Springs-Edwards Aquifer Conservation Dist., 784 S.W.2d 79, 85 (Tex. App. - Austin 1989, writ denied) (applying pre-1987 version of act requiring only statement that emergency existed); River Rd. Neighborhood Ass'n, 720 S.W.2d at 554 (same).

105. See Act of May 31, 1987, 70th Leg., R.S., ch. 549,  5, 1987 Tex. Gen. Laws 2211, 2213.

106. See River Rd. Neighborhood Ass'n, 720 S.W.2d at 557.

107. Id. (citations omitted).

108. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JM-985 (1988).

109. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JM-1037 (1989).

110. River Rd. Neighborhood Ass'n, 720 S.W.2d at 557-58 (holding that trial court could not conclude as matter of law that emergency existed when school board knew action would be required and delayed taking action until immediate action was required); Garcia v. City of Kingsville, 641 S.W.2d 339, 341-42 (Tex. App. - Corpus Christi 1982, no writ) (holding that dismissal of city manager was not matter of urgent public necessity); Cameron County Good Gov't League v. Ramon, 619 S.W.2d 224 (Tex. App. - Beaumont 1981, writ ref'd n.r.e.). See also Markowski v. City of Marlin, 940 S.W.2d 720, 724 (Tex. App. - Waco 1997, writ denied) (city's receipt of lawsuit filed against it by fire captain and fire chief was emergency); Piazza v. City of Granger, 909 S.W.2d 529, 532 (Tex. App. - Austin 1995, no writ) (notice stating city council's "lack of confidence" in police officer did not identify emergency).

111. 948 S.W.2d 787 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1997, writ denied).

112. Id. at 793.

113. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. DM-482 (1998).

114. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.001(2), (4) (Vernon 1994) (defining "deliberation" and "meeting"); Cox Enters., 706 S.W.2d at 959.

115. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.101 (Vernon 1994); Martinez v. State, 879 S.W.2d 54, 56 (Tex. Crim. App. 1994); Cox Enters., 706 S.W.2d at 959.

116. Martinez, 879 S.W.2d at 56; Cox Enters., 706 S.W.2d at 959.

117. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JC-0053 (1999) at 5-6 (pricing committee appointed by Texas Public Finance Authority Board of Directors).

118. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. M-220 (1968) at 5.

119. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-188 (1973).

120. Id.

121. Tex. Att'y Gen. LO-96-111.

122. Tex. Gov't Code Ann.  551.023 (Vernon 1994).

123. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-1163 (1978).

124. Webster, 166 S.W.2d 75; Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JM-120 (1983); see also Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. DM-95 (1992) (considering letter concerning matter of governmental business or policy that was circulated and signed by individual members of governmental body outside of open meeting).

125. City of San Antonio v. Aguilar, 670 S.W.2d 681 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1984, writ dism'd); see also Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. MW-32 (1979) (procedure whereby executive director notified board of his intention to request attorney general to bring lawsuit and board member could request in writing that matter be placed on agenda of next meeting did not violate Open Meetings Act).

126. Spiller v. Texas Dep't of Ins., 949 S.W.2d 548, 551 (Tex. App. - Austin 1997, writ denied). See also Swate, 966 S.W.2d at 698 (hospital board's alleged violation of act did not render termination void where hospital administrator had independent power to hire and fire).

127. Spiller, 949 S.W.2d at 551.

128. 466 S.W.2d 377 (Tex. Civ. App. - San Antonio 1971, no writ).

129. Id. at 378 n.1.

130. Id. at 380; see also City of Stephenville v. Texas Parks & Wildlife Dep't, 940 S.W.2d 667 (Tex. App. - Austin 1996, writ denied) (Water Commission's decision to hear some complaints raised on motion for rehearing and to exclude others should have been taken in open session held in compliance with Act); Gulf Reg'l Educ. Television Affiliates, 746 S.W.2d 803 (governmental body's decision to hire attorney to bring lawsuit was invalid because it was not made in open meeting); Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-1198 (1978) (Open Meetings Act does not permit governmental body to enter into agreement and authorize expenditure of funds in closed session).

131. Nash v. Civil Serv. Comm'n, 864 S.W.2d 163, 166 (Tex. App. - Tyler 1993, no writ).

132. 679 S.W.2d 86 (Tex. App. - Texarkana 1984), aff'd in part, rev'd in part on other grounds, 706 S.W.2d 956 (Tex. 1986).

133. Id. at 90.

134. Id.

135. Id. (footnote omitted); see also Nash, 864 S.W.2d at 166 (holding that act does not prohibit board from reaching tentative conclusion in executive session and announcing it in open session where members have opportunity to comment and cast dissenting vote); City of Dallas v. Parker, 737 S.W.2d 845 (Tex. App. - Dallas 1987, no writ) (holding that proceedings complied with act when "conditional" vote was taken during recess, result was announced in open session, and vote of each member was apparent).

136. Board of Trustees, 679 S.W.2d at 89-90 (affirmed in Cox Enters., 706 S.W.2d at 959).

137. Cox Enters., 706 S.W.2d at 958.

138. See Martinez, 879 S.W.2d 54.

139. Lone Star Greyhound Park, Inc., 863 S.W.2d 742.

140. Id. at 747-48.

141. See Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. JM-238 (1984); H-816 (1976); M-1261 (1972).

142. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JM-100 (1983); 8 Wigmore, Evidence 2292, 2327-29.

143. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. MW-417 (1981) at 2-3.

144. Accord Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-816 (1976) at 4; see also Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. JM-1004 (1989) (school board member who has sued other board members may be excluded from executive session held to discuss litigation); JM-238 (1984) (governmental body may admit to session closed under this exception its agents or representatives, where those persons' interest in litigation is aligned with governmental body's and their presence is necessary for full communication between governmental body and its attorney).

145. Lone Star Greyhound Park, Inc., 863 S.W.2d at 748.

146. Tex. Att'y Gen. LO-96-116.

147. See also Board of Trustees, 679 S.W.2d at 90.

148. Act of Apr. 3, 1973, 63d Leg., R.S., ch. 31, sec. 2,  2(e), 1973 Tex. Gen. Laws 45, 46.

149. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JM-100 (1983) at 2.

150. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. MW-417 (1981) (construing statutory predecessor to section 551.072 of Government Code).

151. Finlan v. City of Dallas, 888 F. Supp. 779, 787 (N.D. Tex. 1995).

152. Save Our Springs Alliance, Inc. v. Austin Indep. Sch. Dist., 973 S.W.2d 378, 382 (Tex. App. - Austin 1998, no pet.).

153. See former article 6252-17,  2(f) of the Revised Civil Statutes.

154. See, e.g., Dallas County Flood Control Dist. No. 1 v. Cross, 815 S.W.2d 271, 282-83 (Tex. App. - Dallas 1991, writ denied).

155. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-496 (1975) (construing statutory predecessor to section 551.074 of Government Code).

156. Id.

157. Swate, 966 S.W.2d at 699; Board of Trustees, 679 S.W.2d at 90; Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. MW-129 (1980); see also Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. DM-149 (1992) (members of advisory committee are not public officers or employees within personnel exception); H-246 (1974) (university board of regents must deliberate in open session about conferring honorary degree, unless candidate is officer or employee of university and deliberations are within subject matter of former art. 6252-17,  2(g), Revised Civil Statutes).

158. City of Dallas, 737 S.W.2d at 848; Corpus Christi Classroom Teachers Ass'n v. Corpus Christi Indep. Sch. Dist., 535 S.W.2d 429, 430 (Tex. Civ. App. - Corpus Christi 1976, no writ).

159. 603 S.W.2d 229 (Tex. Civ. App. - Corpus Christi 1980, writ ref'd n.r.e.).

160. Id. at 236. Accord Thompson v. City of Austin, 979 S.W.2d 676, 684 (Tex. App. - Austin 1998, no pet.).

161. 742 S.W.2d 701 (Tex. App. - Houston [1st Dist.] 1987, writ denied).

162. Id. at 707 (citing Bowen, 603 S.W.2d at 236).

163. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.082(a)(2) (Vernon 1994) (authorizing school board to hold closed meeting to deliberate in a case where an employee brings a complaint or charge against another employee).

164. Act of May 20, 1997, 75th Leg., R.S., ch. 659, 1, 1997 Tex. Gen. Laws 2236.

165. See Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. DM-340 (1995) (application of section 551.078 to board of trustees of a public retirement system).

166. United Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Gonzales, 911 S.W.2d 118, 127 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1995), writ denied, 940 S.W.2d 593 (Tex. 1996) (per curiam).

167. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-651 (1975). Attorney General Opinion H-496 (1975) had determined that the statutory predecessor to section 551.074 did not permit a similar discussion in executive session, but that opinion was distinguished as addressing only the predecessor to section 551.074 and not the predecessor to section 551.083.

168. Section 534.101 of the Health and Safety Code authorizes community mental health and mental retardation centers to create a limited purpose health maintenance organization.

169. Act of May 25, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 1229, 1, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 4273 (Vernon) (to be codified at Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.085).

170. Act of May 27, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 405, 45, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 2543, 2617-18 (Vernon) (to be codified at Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.086).

171. Id. (to be codified at Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.086(c)).

172. Id. (to be codified at Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.086(b)(3)).

173. Id. (to be codified as at Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.086(b)(1)).

174. Id. (to be codified at Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.086(d)).

175. 585 S.W.2d 665 (Tex. 1979).

176. Id. at 667 (emphasis omitted).

177. Id. at 668.

178. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 571.139(b) (Vernon 1994) (excepting the processing, preliminary review, informal hearing, or resolution of a sworn complaint or motion before Ethics Commission); Tex. Lab. Code Ann. 401.021(3) (Vernon 1996) (excepting certain proceedings of Workers' Compensation Commission).

179. See Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. H-1154 (1978) (county child welfare board may meet in executive session to discuss case files made confidential by statute); H-780 (1976) (Medical Advisory Board must meet in closed session to consider confidential reports about medical condition of applicants for driver's license); H-484 (1974) (licensing board may discuss confidential information from applicant's file and may prepare examination questions in closed session); H-223 (1974) (dicta) (administrative hearings in comptroller's office concerning confidential tax information may be closed).

180. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. H-1154 (1978); H-484 (1974).

181. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. MW-578 (1982) at 4.

182. See Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. DM-284 (1994).

183. See Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-1163 (1978).

184. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JM-1143 (1990) (tape recording open session of commissioners court meeting); see also Tex. Att'y Gen. ORD-225 (1979) (handwritten notes of open meetings made by secretary of governmental body are subject to disclosure under Open Records Act); ORD-32 (1974) (audio tape recording of open meeting of state licensing agency used as aid in preparation of accurate minutes is subject to disclosure under Open Records Act).

185. Tex. Gov't Code Ann.  551.103(a)(Vernon 1994); see Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. JM-1071 (1989); JM-840 (1988).

186. Tex. Gov't Code Ann.  551.103(b) (Vernon 1994).

187. Id.  551.103(c).

188. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JM-840 (1988) at 4-7.

189. Id. at 6 (referring to legislative history of section indicating that its primary purpose is to document fact that governmental body did not discuss unauthorized topics in closed session).

190. Tex. Gov't Code Ann.  551.145 (Vernon 1994).

191. Id.  551.104(a).

192. Id. 551.146.

193. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JM-995 (1988).

194. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. ch. 552 (Vernon 1994 & Supp. 1999).

195. See Tex. Att'y Gen. ORD-495 (1988).

196. Equal Employment Opportunity Comm'n v. City of Orange, Texas, 905 F. Supp. 381, 382 (E.D. Tex. 1995).

197. Id.

198. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JC-120 (1999) at 4 (overruling Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. DM-227 (1993) in part).

199. Id. at 2.

200. Id. at 5.

201. See 38 Tex. Jur. 3d Extraordinary Writs 114 - 211 (1985); see also Forney Messenger, Inc. v. Tennon, 959 F. Supp. 389 (N.D. Texas 1997) (remote possibility that former city council members might in future be in a position to violate Open Meetings Act did not provide basis for injunctive relief against them in their individual capacities).

202. Martin v. Victoria Indep. Sch. Dist., 972 S.W.2d 815, 818 (Tex. App. - Corpus Christi 1998, pet. denied).

203. Id.

204. See Cameron County Good Gov't League, 619 S.W.2d at 230-31.

205. See id.

206. Save our Springs Alliance, Inc. v. Lowry, 934 S.W.2d 161 (Tex. App. - Austin 1996, orig. proceeding [leave denied]).

207. Id.

208. Rivera v. City of Laredo, 948 S.W.2d 787, 792 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1997, writ denied).

209. Board of Trustees, 679 S.W.2d 86 (recognizing news media's right to bring declaratory judgment action to determine if board had violated Open Meetings Act); see also City of Fort Worth, 746 S.W.2d 907 (resident of Arlington had standing to bring suit for declaratory judgment and injunction against city for violation of Open Meetings Act).

210. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 37.003 (Vernon 1997).

211. See Austin Transp. Study Policy Advisory Comm. v. Sierra Club, 843 S.W.2d 683 (Tex. App. - Austin 1992, writ denied) (upholding award of attorney fees).

212. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 37.009 (Vernon 1997); City of Fort Worth, 746 S.W.2d at 911, 917-18 (affirming trial court's award in excess of $40,000 in attorney fees to prevailing plaintiff in action pursuant to Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act).

213. 808 S.W.2d 514 (Tex. App. - Austin 1991, writ denied).

214. Id. at 518-19 (also awarding executive director attorney fees of $7,500).

215. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.146(a)(2) (Vernon 1994).

216. See Ferris, 808 S.W.2d at 517 (collecting earlier cases holding invalid governmental actions void); see also Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. H-594 (1975) (commissioners court must first determine action invalid; governmental body cannot independently assert its prior action is invalid when it is to governmental body's advantage to do so); M-494 (1969) (holding actions violating notice provisions of act voidable).

217. 797 S.W.2d 176 (Tex. App. - Corpus Christi 1990, writ denied).

218. Id. at 182.

219. Id. at 182-83 (also noting that previous decisions did not expressly address whether invalidation was limited to specific actions violating act).

220. Compare Coates v. Windham, 613 S.W.2d 572 (Tex. Civ. App. - Austin 1981, no writ) (applying previous version of Open Meetings Act and holding that it permitted courts to hold void only actions violating act's notice requirements) with Toyah Indep. Sch. Dist., 466 S.W.2d 377 (also applying previous version of Open Meetings Act, but holding void governmental action taken at closed meeting in violation of act's open meetings requirements).

221. See Collin County, 716 F. Supp at 960 n.12 (declining to dismiss lawsuit authorized in violation of Open Meetings Act's notice requirements if county within thirty days of court's opinion and order authorized lawsuit at meeting in compliance with act). But see City of Bells v. Greater Texoma Util. Auth., 744 S.W.2d 636, 640 (Tex. App. - Dallas 1987, no writ) (dismissing authority's lawsuit initiated at meeting in violation of Open Meetings Act's notice requirements).

222. Lower Colorado River Auth., 523 S.W.2d at 646-47 (recognizing effectiveness of increase in electric rates only from date reauthorized at lawful meeting); cf. Dallas County Flood Control Dist. No. 1, 815 S.W.2d at 284 (holding ineffective district's reauthorization at lawful meeting of easement transaction initially authorized at unlawful meeting, since to do so, given facts in that case, would give retroactive effect to transaction).

223. Ferris, 808 S.W.2d at 518-19.

224. See Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-419 (1974).

225. 622 S.W.2d 470, 473 (Tex. App. - Tyler 1981, writ ref'd n.r.e.).

226. See Martinez, 879 S.W.2d at 55-56 (upholding validity of information, which charged county commissioners with violating Open Meetings Act by failing to comply with procedural prerequisites for holding closed session).

227. Act of May 22, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 647, 3, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 3218, 3219 (Vernon) (to be codified at Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 551.144(c)).

228. 978 S.W.2d 584 (Tex. Crim App. 1998).

229. Tovar v. State, 949 S.W.2d 370, 374 (Tex. App.- San Antonio 1997), aff'd, 978 S.W.2d 584 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998).

230. See State v. Williams, 780 S.W.2d 891, 892-93 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1989, no writ).

231. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 402.041 - .045 (Vernon 1998).

232. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. DM-95 (1992) at 1; JM-840 (1988) at 6; H-772 (1976) at 6.

233. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. JC-57 (1999) at 3; DM-95 (1992) at 5; JM-840 (1988) at 6; H-772 (1976) at 6.

234. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. ch. 552 (Vernon 1994 & Supp. 1999). This provision, formerly titled the "Open Records Act," is now titled the "Public Information Act." See Act of May 29, 1995, 74th Leg., R.S., ch. 1035, 1995 Tex. Gen. Laws 5127, 5142.

235. See Tex. Att'y Gen. ORD-491 (1988).

236. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 552.301-.306, .321-.323 (Vernon 1994 & Supp. 1999).

237. Tex. Att'y Gen. ORD-605 (1992) (names of applicants may not be withheld merely because applicants were discussed in executive session); ORD-485 (1987) (investigative report may not be withheld merely because it was considered in executive session); ORD-491 (1988) (fact that meeting was not subject to Open Meetings Act does not make minutes of meeting confidential under Open Records Act).

238. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. Nos. JM-595 (1986) at 4-5 (Open Records Act does not authorize executive session discussion of written evaluations on selection of consultants and bidders); MW-578 (1982) (no implied authority under Open Meetings Act to hold closed session to review private information in unemployment benefit case files).

239. See, e.g., Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-1154 (1978) (closed meeting for discussion of confidential child welfare case files); Tex. Att'y Gen. ORD-461 (1987) (tape recording of closed session is not public under Open Records Act); ORD-259 (1980) (value of donation pledged to city is confidential under statutory predecessor to section 551.072 of Government Code).

240. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 2001.001(1) (Vernon 1999); see also id. 2001.003(1), (6).

241. See id. 2001.003(7) (definition of "state agency").

242. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. H-1269 (1978) (considering statutory predecessor to APA).

243. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. No. JM-645 (1987) at 6.

244. Id. at 4-5.

245. Id. at 5-6.

246. 790 S.W.2d 299 (Tex. 1990).

247. Id. at 301.

248. 42 U.S.C. 12101-12213 (1995 & Supp. 1999).

249. See id. 12132 (1995); 28 C.F.R. 35.130, .149, .160 (1999). See generally Tyler v. City of Manhattan, 849 F. Supp. 1429 (D. Kan. 1994).

250. 42 U.S.C. 12102(2) (1995); 28 C.F.R. 35.104 (1999).

251. 28 C.F.R. 35.149, .150 (1999).

252. See generally Tyler, 849 F. Supp. at 1442.

253. 860 F. Supp. 1186 (W.D. Tex. 1994).

254. Id. at 1189-90.

255. Id. at 1186.

256. Id. at 1189-90.

257. 28 C.F.R. 35.160 (1999).

258. Id. 35.160(b)(1).