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Austin
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Harlingen
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San Antonio
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Minimize legal flashback risk over employee firings

Most of the people working for Texas government offices are solid employees, fulfilling their duties as effectively as they can or the system allows. Every once in a while, however, a worker fails to hit appropriate metrics.

If it happens once, civil service policies for the community can establish a plan for correcting the situation. If the issue is one of chronic underperformance, governments have a right to seek to terminate such employees. Often, though, dread of red tape or fear of possible discrimination lawsuits stalls action by managers and administrators.

What are penalties under Texas Open Meetings Act

In previous posts, we focused on requirements of the Texas Open Meeting Act (OMA), and the attention to detail required to ensure that processes and procedures are in place to ensure that government activities are conducted legally and transparently. In this post, we will offer a view of the consequences that public officials could face if someone claims violation of the law.

It does not take much to get a legal action started under the OMA. Any interested person, whether he or she is a private citizen or a member of the news media, can approach the court, usually at the district level, seeking intervention.

Ways to avoid government transparency law violations

Fostering the rights of the public to hold elected and other public officials accountable is crucial for the ongoing success of society. Because of that, all the states in the U.S. have adopted laws dictating the actions of government bodies regarding the formation of public policy.

As we noted in a post in June, compliance with the law can present a challenge. New avenues of social media and telecommunications make it possible for policy-making bodies to conduct business away from the view of the constituents they serve. But the law requires transparency for most deliberative activity. So, to achieve that, information exchanged through newer media platforms must be viewable and searchable by the public for at least 30 days ahead of any final decisions.

Knowing what constitutes nepotism can prevent it

Nepotism has ancient roots, and so does criticism of the practice. Texts going back eons disparage as unethical the grant of favors to close relatives by those in positions of power. Despite that long-standing disapproval, nepotism remains such a major concern that there are laws that prohibit it, especially within the context of politics.

Every layer of government, from federal to state to municipality, and all the paid individuals serving them, are subject to myriad laws. Violating the laws not only can stain the reputation of officials found guilty of the practice, it can also undermine public confidence and government's authority and integrity.

United States Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Local Governments

For years, businesses have been able to skirt the taxation power of local governments when selling goods online. Those days are over.

In the case Wayfair v. South Dakota, the Court held that local governments could indeed impose sales tax on companies who did not maintain a physical presence in that state. The Court viewed decades of precedents as being out of step with the modern realities of internet commerce.

Whatever Happened To Governmental Immunity In Texas?

It used to be that taxpayers could expect a certain level of immunity for their municipalities. After all, why should taxpayers be punished for the rogue actions of one particular individual? A recent case from the Texas Supreme Court, however, should have taxpayers and municipalities concerned that the protection of governmental immunity is eroding. In Wasson v. City of Jacksonville (Wasson II), the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the city waived its immunity.

Will The Tarr Short-Term Rental Case Affect Texas Cities?

The Texas Supreme Court recently overruled a trial court and an appellate court, holding that the owner of single-family residential structure could indeed use it as a short-term rental property for parties and the like even though the covenant of the Timberwood Park Owners Association restricted use of the property to a residential purpose.

Upcoming Conferences for Texas Officials

On July 13 in Navasota and August 10 in Forest Hill, the Texas Municipal League (TML) will be sponsoring Problem-Solving Clinics for Small Cities. Each one day clinic addresses questions regularly faced by officials, both elected and appointed, who serve in small cities.

 

Upcoming Conferences for Newly-Elected Texas Officials

If you have just been elected to office in Texas, you might be wondering, "What now?" Running for office is one thing. Actually running the office itself, well, that's another.

For that reason, we want to bring to your attention the upcoming Newly Elected City Officials' Orientation. Sponsored by the Texas Municipal League (TML) and the Texas Association of Mayors, Councilmembers and Commissioners (TAMCC), the conference occurs twice during this summer.

Political apparel at polls: Will Supreme Court ruling affect Texas law?

On June 14, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Minnesota law prohibiting voters from wearing political badges, buttons or other apparel in polling places. In Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, the Court held by a 7-2 majority that the apparel ban violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. The case stems from the November 2010 election, in which voters were prevented from wearing such things as a button with the text "Please I.D. Me" and a T-shirt with a Tea Party Patriots logo and the language "Don't Tread on Me."

The Texas Election Code also prohibit voters from wearing certain things to the polls on election day. Specifically, Texas voters are not allowed to wear "a badge, insignia, emblem, or other similar communicative device relating to a candidate, measure, or political party appearing on the ballot, or to the conduct of the election" either in the polling place or within 100 feet of the any entrance to the building housing the polling place. Could the Texas law be affected by the Supreme Court ruling?

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