Recent Texas Attorney General Opinions of Interest to Cities

Note:  Included opinions are from April 12, 2014 through May 13, 2014.

Opinion No. GA-1058 (Municipal Development District):  Whether any particular project of a municipal development district meets the statutory requirements in order to be funded as a development project involves questions of fact that cannot be determined through the opinion process. A court would likely conclude that Chapter 377 of the Local Government Code authorizes a municipal development district to contract with a private, nonprofit organization to operate a civic center.

Opinion No. GA-1056 (Warning Citations):  A court could conclude that only a warning that consists of a summons, ticket or other official document, a traffic violation, and an order requiring the motorist to respond is likely to be considered a traffic citation subject to the prohibition in Section 720.002 of the Transportation Code. A court could also conclude that the text and purpose of Section 720.002 require the term “traffic citation” to be construed broadly to include traffic warnings. We cannot definitively determine whether the prohibitions of Section 720.002 encompass traffic warnings.

Opinion No. GA-1055 (Comptroller Duty to Identify Court Costs and Fees):  The plain language of Government Code Subsection 51.607(a) applies only to court-related costs and fees. The Records Management and Preservation Fee authorized under Local Government Code Subsection 118.011(b) relates to the filing of non-court-related documents. It therefore does not fall within the scope of the Comptroller’s duties under Subsection 51.607(a).

Opinion No. GA-1054 (Restrictive Covenants):  Property owners’ association covenants are treated as contracts between parties under Texas law and are therefore protected by the Contract Clauses of both the Texas and United States Constitutions. Both the Texas Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court have determined that the constitutional rule against impairment of contracts may yield to statutes that serve a significant and legitimate public purpose. A court would likely conclude that Property Code Section 202.006 is not a bill of attainder prohibited by the Texas or United States Constitutions.

Opinion No. GA-1052 (Major Events Trust Fund):  While the Comptroller of Public Accounts is expressly authorized by Article 5190.14, Section 5A(v) of the Revised Civil Statutes to adopt rules to implement the Major Events Trust Fund statute, such authority does not include authority to adopt a rule that is contrary to the language of the statute.

Opinion No. GA-1051 (Handguns):  Penal Code Section 46.035, Subsections (b) and (c) are not violated by a person who is lawfully carrying a handgun pursuant to a school board of trustees’ written regulations and authorization under Subsection 46.03(a)(1). A person acting according to such regulations and authorization would likely be acting within the scope of official duties. A school board may appoint one person to serve as a school marshal under Section 37.0811 of the Education Code and authorize another person to serve under the district’s regulations and authorization under Subsection 46.03(a)(1) of the Penal Code.