What Citizens Should Know About The Texas Public Information Act

Governmental entities lawyer

As Texans, we have the right to know what is going on with governmental entities. This not only helps ensure a system of checks and balances, but also serves to keep officials and appointees accountable. However, many Texans are completely unaware of their rights and do not exercise them.

About The Texas Public Information Act

The Public Information Act states “Governmental bodies shall promptly release requested information that is not confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision, or information for which an exception to disclosure has not been sought.” Essentially, this means Texans have a right to access most government records. Additionally, Texans requesting records cannot be asked why they are requesting them. Because we elect many of our officials, we have a right to review the work they perform on our behalf. Without this transparency, democracy cannot exist.

The Texas Opening Meetings Act

The Texas Open Meetings Act dictates that governmental bodies must hold open meetings unless there is an authorized reason for a closed session, also known as an executive session. The Texas Open Meetings Act applies to many organizations, like commissioner courts, city councils, school boards, and nonprofit organizations that provide public services or spend taxpayer money among others. Meeting dates and times must be posted at least 72 hours in advance so interested citizens can participate in the meetings if they so choose.

Violations of The Texas Public Information Act and The Texas Open Meetings Act 

Sometimes violations of the Texas Public Information Act and the Texas Opening Meetings Act are simply due to carelessness. Some officials may be unaware of the nuances of the laws, but other times there are specific reasons for violations. There are instances when officials don’t want to share information because it could be incriminating, or at the very least, unflattering. However, restricting this information infringes on the rights of Texans to know what goes on in their government and community.

At Feldman & Feldman, we fiercely protect Texans’ right to information. We will take on local and state agencies to make sure they comply with the Texas Public Information Act and the Texas Open Meetings Act.