Recent Texas Attorney General Opinions of Interest to Cities

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

Opinion No. GA-1029 (Employment):  Under Local Government Code subsection 143.014(c), the number of persons a police department head may appoint may not exceed the number of positions, plus one, in the classification “immediately below that of department head” on January 1, 1983, irrespective of the particular title used.

Opinion No. GA-1027 (Law Enforcement):  Whether a landowner may be liable for the actions of law enforcement officers that occur on the landowner’s property or for livestock that escape due to actions over which the landowner has no control are fact questions beyond the purview of an attorney general opinion.

Opinion No. GA-1026 (Dual Office Holding):  Texas statutes do not prohibit a state employee from becoming a candidate for elected county office. The federal Hatch Act, however, prohibits a state employee from becoming a candidate for elective office if the salary of the employee is paid completely by federal funds. Article 16, subsection 40(b) of the Texas Constitution does not prohibit a state employee from assuming elected county office.

Opinion No. GA-1024 (Nepotism):  An at-will employee who consistently but periodically delivers employment services may qualify for the continuous employment nepotism exception under Government Code section 573.062, provided that his employment was continuous. Whether employment is continuous depends on the underlying circumstances of the employment relationship and is a determination to be made by the employer in the first instance. Once the continuous-employment exception is satisfied, it exempts an individual from the nepotism prohibition of section 573.041 only until the employment relationship is broken.