Office of the Attorney General

2013 Government Law & Liability Conference

November 6-7, 2013

AT&T Conference Center

1900 University Avenue

Austin, TX 78705

(512) 404-3600





Wednesday, November 6, 2013

7:30-8:30 a.m.


8:30-9:00 a.m.

Welcome and Introductions

Role of the Office of the Attorney General                              

9:00-9:30 a.m.

2013 Legislative Update on Laws Affecting State Agencies

This session will provide an overview of the recent legislation that may be of particular concern to state agencies, such as changes in the Government Code that affect all agencies, across-the-board sunset provisions, etc. 

9:30-10:30 a.m.          

Texas Open Government Laws:  2013 Legislative Update and Effective Briefing to the Open Records Division

2013 legislative changes to the Public Information Act and tips on successful advocacy will be highlighted in this session.  Appropriate assertion of some of the more common exceptions raised by governmental bodies that seek to withhold information from disclosure will be presented.         

10:30-10:45 a.m.        


10:45-11:45 a.m.        

Litigation under the Public Information Act

This session will feature a panel discussing typical litigation scenarios and practical tips for navigating, avoiding and resolving Public Information Act litigation. 

11:45 a.m.-1 p.m.       

Lunch on Your Own                                

1:00-1:30 p.m.

When Is an Utterance a Rule?

This session provides a basic overview of when an agency’s statement of policy or interpretation of law may be deemed a rule that is subject to notice and comment procedures of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

1:30-2:30 p.m.

Employee Relations: Practical Ideas on Common Recurring Issues

This presentation will focus on recurring thorny employment issues, including intermittent FMLA leave, medical accommodations, performance feedback, voluntary vs. involuntary separations and overtime.  Attendees will receive practical advice from a legal and human resources perspective.                    

2:30-2:45 p.m.


2:45-3:45 p.m.

Whistleblower and Employment Law Update

The speaker will give an overview of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas v. Gentilello and its impact on the Texas Whistleblower Act.  The speaker will also discuss University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar and the standard it imposes on federal retaliation cases under Title VII.  Finally, the presentation will discuss the Prairie View A&M University v. Chatha case, in which the Texas Supreme Court refused to extend Lilly Ledbetter Act-like protection to pay discrimination claims under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.

3:45-4:15 p.m.

Case Law Update

The speaker will discuss recent significant cases impacting state agencies.

4:15-5:15 p.m.

Emergency Preparedness and Contact with the Media

This panel has hands-on experience in responding to large-scale emergencies and aiding state agencies in continuing operations under unprecedented conditions.  The panel members will discuss anticipating unusual issues that may arise in various situations of public emergency.  Practical advice, specific advance steps and resource identification that will help your agency prepare for an emergency will be covered.  In addition, this panel will address responding effectively to the media in emergency circumstances.

5:15 p.m.                    

Adjourn - Day One  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

8:00-8:30 a.m.


8:30-9:15 a.m.            

Board Member Liability

This session will include a discussion of situations in which members of a state agency board may find themselves named as parties to a suit arising from their board activities.  Among other things, the session will cover topics such as sovereign and official immunity and legislative privilege.                 

9:15-10:00 a.m.          

Ethics in State Government

This segment will provide the ethics training statutorily required of most state board members.  It will emphasize the duty to become familiar with the statutory duties of the board members’ agencies and also include reporting requirements, statutory prohibitions and conflicts of interest in decision-making. The presenters will provide fact scenarios and an interactive discussion to help the listener apply the concepts presented.                                 

10:00-10:15 a.m.        


10:15-11:00 a.m.        

Update on the Texas Open Meetings Act

Discussion will cover the applicability of the Texas Open Meetings Act and legal requirements such as notice and posting requirements; quorum issues; conducting both an open and closed meeting; record-keeping requirements; and related ethical issues.                                                            

11:00-11:45 a.m.        

Working Effectively With Your AAG at Every Step of the Trial Process

This panel will examine how to provide effective assistance to the AAG handling your agency litigation.  Topics will include how to handle a claim prior to litigation which will likely become litigation; proper implementation of a litigation hold; assisting with written and deposition discovery; and how to best assist your AAG in preparing for and presenting the State’s position at trial.  Collecting, organizing and maintaining documents as well as working with fact witnesses/defendants in order to insure a complete field investigation by your AAG will also be discussed.

11:45 a.m.-1 p.m.       

Lunch on Your Own                                                                                              

1:00-1:45 p.m.

Criminal History and Occupational Licensing

When can an agency deny an applicant or revoke a license based on criminal history?   The speakers will survey applicable laws including Occupations Code Chapter 53 and provide practical tips for agency practitioners.

1:45-2:30 p.m.

Workplace Safety

This session will address personal and situational awareness which is an on-going critical risk subject. The topic will include workplace safety and security concerns for employees and others present in the workplace. Also included in the presentation will be SORM’s nationally recognized training video, Active Shooter Emergency Preparedness with a goal of encouraging heightened awareness and responsible reaction to certain safety issues. This session will also cover various free resources available to agencies and found on SORM’s website:                                                             

2:30-3:15 p.m.

Dual Office Holding, Nepotism, Resign to Run and Conflict of Interest

This session will review certain common legal and ethical pitfalls that can affect public officers in the performance of their duties.                               

3:15-3:30 p.m.


3:30-4:15 p.m.

Reviewing and Acting on a Proposal for Decision

Section 2001.058(e) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) circumscribes an agency’s authority to modify findings of fact and conclusions of law issued in a proposal for decision.  This presentation offers advice and tips for making permissible modifications in a final order in conformity with the APA and existing case law.                                           

4:15-5:00 p.m.

Litigation Hold and Electronic Discovery

This session will discuss the fundamentals of preservation of electronically stored information (“ESI”) in connection with anticipated or ongoing litigation. Topics will include: (1) duties and obligations to preserve ESI; (2) the basics of a litigation hold; (3) understanding your clients information systems; (4) back-up tapes and other disaster recovery systems; (5) identification of key custodians; (6) managing costs and resources associated with preservation; and (7)  trends in practice and case law. The goal of the session is to ensure that client agencies can engage in reasonable, efficient and effective preservation efforts that will keep the Court and opposing counsel satisfied without breaking the budget.                         

5:00 p.m.