Recent Texas Attorney General Opinions

Note:  Included opinions are from June 11, 2021 through July 10, 2021.

KP-0377 (Residency): Determining residency for purposes of the Election Code involves consideration of both a person’s physical presence and current intention to reside in a particular location.

KP-0376 (Nepotism/Conflicts of Interest): The nepotism statute, subsection 573.041(1) of the Government Code, prohibits a public official from appointing specified relatives to a position but does not apply to a county’s award of a collections services contract to a business entity, namely a law firm.

The duty of county attorneys in counties with a population of more than 1.25 million under section 89.001 of the Local Government Code to select special counsel to collect the county’s delinquent receivables is subject to the approval of the commissioner’s court. Accordingly, this does not constitute a “vote or decision” requiring the county attorney to comply with the conflict-of-interest procedures under subsection 171.004(a) of the Local Government Code.

KP-0373 (Zoning): A court would likely conclude that the zoning authority of a municipality is subservient to the reasonable exercise of an open- enrollment charter school in choosing a building location.

Section 12.103 of the Education Code provides that an open-enrollment charter school is subject to municipal zoning ordinances governing public schools. Pursuant to this section, a court would likely conclude that a municipal zoning ordinance that treats open-enrollment charter schools differently from other public schools is inconsistent with state law.

While Texas courts have limited the application of municipal land use regulations to public schools, they have recognized the ongoing applicability of building codes and safety regulations. The validity of any ordinance requiring a public school, including an open-enrollment charter school, to obtain a permit or other permission before beginning construction must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but the permitting process may not be used to effectively deny public schools the right to choose reasonable locations for their buildings.