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_091316.pdf.

Public Information Act:  Paxton v. City of Dallas, Nos. 15-0073 & 15-0238 (Consolidated), in the Texas Supreme Court.  The issues before the court are whether the policy supporting the attorney-client privilege and, in the alternative, the avoidance of harm to a city’s bargaining position on a multimillion-dollar long-term transaction are compelling reasons to withhold attorney-client-privileged communications when the city asked for an attorney general ruling after the deadlines in Texas Government Code Section 552.301.  The Texas Municipal League, Texas City Attorneys Association, and Texas Association of Counties (Amici) filed an amicus brief in support of the City of Dallas.  Amici argued that:  (1) the attorney-client privilege, in and of itself, constitutes a compelling reason to withhold information under Section 552.302; and (2) attorney-client privileged information is confidential by law under Section 552.101 and thus, constitutes a compelling reason to withhold information under Section 552.302.  In addition, Amici argued that if the attorney general’s interpretation of the Public Information Act is allowed to stand: (1) the attorney-client privilege will be devalued to such an extent that governmental entities will be left legally vulnerable; and (2) individual government officers and employees will be subject to possible prosecution and removal from office. The brief was filed on September 9, 2016.

Hotel Occupancy Tax:  RQ-0122-KP; Authority of a municipality to use hotel occupancy tax revenue to fund a feasibility study and the construction, operation, and maintenance of a performing arts center.  This attorney general opinion request asks if the City of Lakeway may “legally expend local hotel occupancy tax revenue to fund a feasibility study for a performing arts center and the construction, operation, and maintenance of the performing arts center.”  The Texas Municipal League and Texas City Attorneys Association argued that:  (1) an expenditure of hotel occupancy tax revenue on both a feasibility study and the construction, operation, and maintenance of a performing arts center promotes tourism and the convention and hotel industry; and (2) an expenditure of hotel occupancy tax revenue on a feasibility study and the construction, operation, and maintenance of a performing arts center is authorized by Section 351.101(a) of the Tax Code as an expenditure to promote the arts and, potentially, as an expenditure supporting convention center facilities. The comments were filed on August 31, 2016.

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