Locals need to understand the Open Meetings Act, too

Not long ago, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote that “the inherent right of Texans to govern themselves depends on their ability to observe how public officials are conducting the people’s business.” That right is what makes it crucial for state-level governmental bodies to understand and adhere to the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Local governmental bodies need to do the same. There can sometimes be questions or confusion among members of local bodies whether or not they must pay strict attention to the Act.

Clearing confusion

To clear up confusion, state law lists many local governmental bodies required to abide by the Act, including the following:

  • a county commissioners court in the state
  • a municipal governing body in the state
  • a school district board of trustees
  • a county board of school trustees
  • a county board of education
  • the governing board of a special district created by law

Nonprofits can also be required to abide by the Act if they are a corporation eligible to receive federal community services block grant authorized by Texas to serve a particular area of the state.

A few more

Also if you’re on a board, commission, department, committee, or agency that’s part of Texas’s executive or legislative branch, and your group gets direction from at least one elected or appointed members, yes, you folks need to adhere to the Open Meetings Act.

Last but not least, are those deliberative bodies that have rulemaking (or quasi-judicial) power and are in the class of department, agency or political subdivision of a county or city or town.

Of course, even when lawmakers try to be clear, facts and responsibilities can sometimes still be obscured by dense legalese. Many government entities reach out from time to time to outside counsel to get important matters clarified.