Recent Texas Attorney General Opinions of Interest to Cities

Note:  Included opinions are from December 11, 2013 through January 10, 2014.

Opinion No. GA-1037 (HOME Funds):  This office cannot advise that, as a matter of law, a council of governments is a unit of general local government for purposes of the federal HOME Investment Partnership Program.

Opinion No. GA-1035 (Juvenile Cases):  Senate Bill 393, Senate Bill 394, and House Bill 528, enacted by the Eighty-third Texas Legislature, do not irreconcilably conflict. Senate Bills 393 and 394 became effective on September 1, 2013. House Bill 528 became effective on January 1, 2014. A court would likely conclude that the enactment of House Bill 528 will not require that the proceedings of nontraffic, fine-only misdemeanor cases involving children in justice and municipal courts must be closed to the public.

Opinion No. GA-1034 (Court Costs):  A court would likely conclude that Section 51.608 of the Texas Government Code, which requires that court costs imposed on a defendant in a criminal proceeding be the amount required on the date the defendant is convicted, does not violate the ex post facto clauses of the United States or Texas Constitutions.

Opinion No. GA-1033 (Texas Windstorm Insurance Association):  Whether it is negligence by the TWIA organization, TWIA Board, or the Texas Department of Insurance to not make assessments against insurance carriers involves questions of fact that are inappropriate for the opinion process. No provision in Insurance Code Chapter 2210 prohibits TWIA from using future premiums to pay prior obligations.

Opinion No. GA-1031 (Utility):  A city to which Chapter 552 of the Local Government Code applies has express authority under Section 552.122 to adopt an ordinance providing for a board of trustees to manage and control its municipally owned electric utility and to establish the board member qualifications which can include out-of-city representation. Whether any particular city charter provision limits such a board’s independent exercise of its delegated powers and responsibilities is not a question that can be resolved in an attorney general opinion. Under Article XI, Section 5 of the Texas Constitution, only qualified voters of the City of Austin may vote in an election to amend the Austin city charter.