New transparency laws taking effect

Texas Open Meetings Act legislation that clarifies the law on walking quorums passed the Legislature with overwhelming support and took effect in June, immediately after Gov. Greg Abbott signed the measure.

Two important bills strengthening the Texas Public Information Act also won passage and take effect soon. Senate Bill 944 by Sen. Kirk Watson and sponsored by Rep. Giovanni Capgriglione makes several changes to the act, including closing a "custodian loophole" that sometimes prevents requesters from obtaining government records held in public officials' private electronic accounts. This law goes into effect Sept. 1.

A TPIA contracting transparency measure, SB 943 by Watson and Capriglione addressing problems created by 2015 Texas Supreme Court rulings, takes effect Jan. 1, 2020. It restores citizens' access to information on taxpayer dollars spent with private companies.

A measure by Rep. Terry Canales, House Bill 2840, gives members of the public the right to address governing bodies during open meetings. That legislation takes effect Sept. 1.

These and other transparency efforts in the Texas Legislature will be topics at the lead-off panel at the FOIFT state conference Sept. 20.

This post is courtesy of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

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