This handbook has been written and revised subsequently by several present and former assistant attorney generals,including Julian Grant, Scott Joslove, Jeff Moore, and Zindia Thomas. The original handbook was created withassistance from the Municipal Advisory Committee of this office.
The Texas Open Meetings Act Made Easy
After each legislative session, the Attorney General’s Office has produced this publication thataddresses certain key issues local officials face in their day-to-day operations. In a question-and-answer format, this handbook covers the most frequently asked questions about the Texas OpenMeetings Act (“the Act”).
For example, the handbook addresses when the Act applies, whatconstitutes reasonable notice, the application of the Act to informal gatherings, and the limited rightof individual council members to place items on an agenda. Additionally, the handbook covers permissible subjects for executive sessions, who may attend an executive session, and theappropriate handling of a certified agenda. Finally, the handbook addresses the ability to “ratify”an action, civil enforcement of the Act, and criminal penalties for certain violations.The stakes are high for local public officials. Texas courts have ruled that in certain cases, a local public official can be convicted of participating in an illegal closed meeting even though the officialmay have believed at the time that the closed meeting was authorized. Local public officials mayalso face criminal penalties if they knowingly attempt to avoid open meetings requirements bymeeting in numbers less than a quorum for the purpose of secret deliberations about public business.This “made easy” handbook provides answers in easy-to-understand language to the most frequentlyasked questions regarding the Act. The Act does apply to a variety of governmental entities, soalthough this information is geared towards the Act’s application to local public bodies, it will beuseful to other officials and Texas citizens as well.