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Texas Gulf Coast
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Can an internet broadcast count as an “open meeting”?

In today’s world, going to work can include sitting in a café on the other side of town, or joining a meeting while on the other side of the world. What was once a luxury has become common in more industries and offices.

While you may be able to do some of your work remotely, there are certain aspects of the job that require your physical presence. When it comes to the Texas Open Meetings Act, there are rules about who needs to be there.

Getting ready for November

There are not a lot of open seats open for election in November, but that does not mean that it is not a critical time for Texas elections. There are several positions all over Texas that are essential for this election-cycle and the future.

For those running for office, the year before a Presidential election can be difficult. While many constituents may be thinking about politics, most of their election-thoughts are focused on next year.

Disclose or be deposed

As a government official, you have such a high level of responsibility that part of your life becomes public record. Many people automatically think this only applies to higher profile individuals like mayors and senators, who have public Facebook pages and might merit a local news feature if, say, they go through a messy divorce.

But we’re talking about other officials and employees here, maybe even you. The government keeps records of many aspects of its employees’ lives, specifically financial records. This is to verify that, for example, city judges aren’t accepting bribes of any kind to sway their verdicts. You may feel this infringes on your privacy; however, it is the price you pay to be a public servant.

FCC order may reduce cable franchise revenues for Texas governments

Franchise arrangements for cable services are a major benefit to many Texas municipalities. In addition to serving as a source of revenue, they often provide additional “freebies” such as low- or no-cost services for public institutions. However, a recent order by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will effectively do away with those freebies, resulting in greater financial burdens for the municipalities that have come to rely on them.

It’s a win for the cable industry, but a major loss for local governments.

What is excluded from the Texas Public Information Act?

The Texas Public Information Act (PIA) allows the public to request large quantities of information about what is going on in the government. Although citizens may see it as a reassurance, it may seem more complicated for your government office.

While you may not intentionally seek to keep information from local citizens, there is some information that must remain private. Included in the PIA is some inherently confidential information.

What is the Texas Public Information Act?

Texans are an essential part of the Texas government. The wants and needs of the citizens should be part of every action their elected officials take.

Part of the process for Texans being involved in their government includes having information about what is happening and what has happened. The Texas Public Information Act (PIA) was designed to help citizens get the information they need about their government and their state.

Making a government meeting open

There is a lot that goes into the everyday business of running a Texas governing body. Whether you are supporting your city or other municipality, it can seem like there is an endless list of obligations and rules for completing those tasks.

When it comes time to schedule meetings, the local residents need to have the opportunity to be involved. The Open Meetings Act is in place to make sure that everyone interested has proper notice about upcoming meetings.

What is the Open Meetings Act?

The people in your city have many different levels of interest. There may be a group that wants to be at every meeting, and there will be others that do not vote and are not interested in government business at all.

Whether your residents are interested or not, the State of Texas passed a law requiring that meetings of governmental bodies be open to the public.

City governments struggling with new state zoning law

Zoning and land use are often some of the most important issues that cities and local governments handle. 

They are also often the most debated issues. Texas landowners can be protective of their property, and that can sometimes make zoning ordinances difficult to create and enforce. However, it seems that many cities are facing even more challenges with a new state law that impacts the zoning process. 

How can public officials avoid claims of retaliation?

Federal and local governments usually encourage whistleblowers to come forward if they witness legal or ethical violations in their workplace. But what happens when employees blow the whistle on public entities?

A whistleblower report can be a challenge to deal with for any public entity. And in addition to dealing with the claims themselves, local entities must be wary of retaliation lawsuits as well. 

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