Recent Texas Attorney General Opinions

Note:  Included opinions are from August 11, 2021 through September 10, 2021.

KP-0384 (Staggered Terms):  Subsection 23.026(b) of the Local Government Code authorizes a Type B general-law city to provide for two-year staggered terms for the mayor and city aldermen by ordinance. To the extent the municipal action at issue providing for such stagger was taken by resolution, it does not conform to the statute and is likely void.

To the extent the action was taken by ordinance pursuant to subsection 23.026(b), that provision contains no language allowing the aldermen to opt out of drawing lots to determine which aldermen have two-year terms. Similarly, subsection 23.026(b) does not authorize the city secretary to draw lots for the aldermen.

While a Type B general-law city may repeal a prior ordinance, such a repeal does not necessarily revive the prior law. Instead, a city must affirmatively adopt a new ordinance providing for the change in form of government.

A meeting to adopt an ordinance must be posted as required by the Open Meetings Act in chapter 551 of the Government Code. An adopted ordinance must be published in three public places in the municipality or posted in a newspaper published in the municipality as required by chapter 52 of the Local Government Code. Failure to follow these posting and publication requirements would render the ordinance voidable under the Open Meetings Act or unenforceable under chapter 52 of the Local Government Code.

We do not address your last question about the lawfulness of the ordinance to re-stagger the elections because it involves mixed questions of law and fact.

KP-0382 (Vacancies):  Texas courts recognize that a vacancy may occur by abandonment of office. Whether a specific legislator abandoned his or her office such that a vacancy occurred will be a fact question for a court and is beyond the scope of an Attorney General opinion.

Through a quo warranto action, a district court may determine that a legislator has forfeited his or her office due to abandonment and can remove the legislator from office, thereby creating a vacancy.