TCAA/TML Legal Defense Program: Amicus Briefs and Comments Filed

TCAA, in conjunction with the Texas Municipal League, files amicus briefs and comments in support of cities on many issues. To keep up to date on the status of these issues, go to http://www.tml.org/p/AmicusBriefUpdate_071116.pdf.

Municipal Zoning/PUC Jurisdiction:  Appeal of Brazos Electric Cooperative, Inc. and Denton County Electric Cooperative, Inc. D/B/A CoServ Electric from an Ordinance of The Colony, Texas, and, in the alternative, Application for a Declaratory Order, PUC Docket No. 45175. In this docket, electric cooperatives appeal a city’s denial of a specific use permit for an electric substation.  The cooperative’s claim that the PUC has jurisdiction to overturn the city’s zoning ordinance as it applies to them.  TML argued that the PUC has no jurisdiction over a generally-applicable police power ordinance, like that complained of here.  The comments were filed on July 8, 2016.

Licensed Handgun Carry:  RQ-0087-KP, Requirements for a municipality’s posting of notice regarding the carrying of handguns.  The Texas Municipal League submitted to the attorney general’s office a TML paper titled “Cities and Firearms” for that office to use as a resource in opining on the request.  The comment was filed on January 26, 2016.  Opinion No. KP-0098 (2016) was issued on June 27, 2016 and essentially advised that a city wanting to prohibit licensed carry in the meeting room may do so by temporarily posting the signs at the entrance to the room when a meeting is taking place.  However, the opinion also included an analysis related to licensed carry in “closed meetings.”  The 2015 legislation prohibiting licensed carry “in the room or rooms where a meeting of a governmental entity is held and if the meeting is an open meeting” was added to clarify that only meetings of bodies governed by the Open Meetings Act are off limits, and only then if a city posts signage.  The phrase “open meeting” in that statute clearly means one that is subject to the Open Meetings Act.  However, the attorney general’s office reads it literally to not include a “closed meeting (i.e., an executive session).”  In other words, the opinion concludes that a city can’t prohibit a person from licensed carrying into an executive session.  TML submitted a request for reconsideration of the opinion on July 5, 2016.

Municipal Subdivision Ordinance/Electric Undergrounding:  Appeal of CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, LLC from an Ordinance of the City of League City, Texas and Application for Declaratory Relief, PUC Docket No. 45259. In this docket, CenterPoint Energy claims that a city may not, through its subdivision ordinance, require a developer to request undergrounded distribution lines.  CenterPoint claims that such a requirement violates its PUC-approved tariff.  TML argued that the PUC has no jurisdiction to interpret a city’s subdivision ordinance, and that the requirement that a developer bear the cost of undergrounding does not violate CenterPoint’s tariff.  The letter was filed on June 29, 2016.

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