Recent Texas Attorney General Opinions of Interest to Cities

Note:  Included opinions are from July 11, 2016 through August 10, 2016. 

Opinion No. KP-0108 (Licensed Carry):  Section 411.209 of the Government Code creates a civil penalty for a state agency or a political subdivision that provides notice that a license holder carrying a handgun is prohibited on property owned by the governmental entity unless carrying a handgun in such locations is expressly prohibited under the Penal Code. Section 411.209 applies only to a state agency or political subdivision of the State and does not address whether a private entity, including an independent nonprofit entity, may provide notice to license holders that the carrying of handguns is prohibited in the private entity’s offices. As long as the state agency or political subdivision leasing the property to the private entity has no control over the decision to post such notice, the state agency or political subdivision lessor would not be the entity responsible for the posting and would therefore not be subject to a civil penalty under Section 411.209.

A court would likely conclude that a license holder who carries a handgun on property that is owned by a governmental entity but leased to a private entity and that is not a premises or other place from which the license holder is prohibited from carrying a handgun under Sections 46.03 or 46.035 of the Penal Code is excepted from the offenses in Subsections 30.06(a) and 30.07(a) of the Penal Code.

Opinion No. KP-0105 (Conflict of Interest):  Members of the Beaumont Planning and Zoning Commission and the Beaumont Historical Landmark Commission are local public officials subject to Chapter 171 of the Local Government Code. A city employee providing staff support for the two commissions is not a local public official subject to Chapter 171. Any real property interest within the historic district owned by members of either commission and valued at $2,500 or more is a substantial property interest for which the members must file an affidavit stating the nature and extent of the interest before a vote or decision on any matter involving the property.

Whether the members must abstain from voting on matters involving their property interest depends on whether it is reasonably foreseeable that an action on the matter will have a special economic effect on the value of the property, distinguishable from its effect on the public. Such question involves fact issues and is outside the purview of an attorney general opinion.

Opinion No. KP-0104 (Donations):  A county has express authority to expend county funds for the display of the United States flag on county property.  In expending public funds on a nonprofit organization’s flag project, a county commissioners court will avoid violating Article III, Section 52(a) of the Texas Constitution if it determines in good faith that the expenditure serves a public purpose, it places sufficient controls on the transaction to ensure that the public purpose is carried out, and it ensures that it receives a return benefit.