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/AMICUSBRIEFUPDATE041514.pdf.
Meeting by Videoconference: RQ-1191-GA; Regarding the ability of members of a governmental body to participate in a meeting by videoconference call under Section 551.127 of the Texas Government Code. This attorney general opinion requests asks various questions about a local governmental body’s ability to conduct and a member’s ability to participate in a meeting conducted by videoconference. Texas Municipal League and Texas City Attorneys Association argued that: (1) under Subsection 551.127(c), a governmental body does not have to extend into three or more counties in order to hold a videoconference meeting without a quorum physically present; and (2) members of a governmental body who participate in a videoconference meeting remotely may participate from locations outside of the geographic jurisdiction of the governmental body they serve, including locations outside of the State of Texas. The comments were filed on April 4, 2014.
Electric Rate Case Reimbursement/Expenses: Public Utility Commission (PUC) Project No. 41622, Rulemaking to Propose New Substantive Rule 25.245, Relating to Recovery of Expenses for Ratemaking Proceedings. The purpose of this rulemaking is to revise procedures for reviewing requests for rate case expenses incurred by utilities and municipalities in electric ratemaking proceedings. The Texas Municipal League filed reply comments, arguing that: (1) cities play a key role in utility ratemaking in Texas; (2) cities should not be penalized for reasonably responding to utilities’ requests for rate increases; (3) the PUC should allocate municipal rate case expenses to all customers, not just a sub-set of customers; (4) cities should not be penalized for conducting the amount of discovery needed to meaningfully review a utility’s case; (5) utility shareholders should bear some of the costs for seeking increases in the utility’s rates; and (6) cities should be allowed to recover estimated rate case expenses for the costs of appeals. The comment was filed on March 21, 2014.
Plastic Bag Ordinances: RQ-1189-GA; Does Section 361.0961, Texas Health and Safety Code, prohibit cities from adopting ordinances that ban plastic bags and charge related fees? This attorney general opinion request asks about the legality of several city ordinances that ban plastic bags and impose related fees. Texas Municipal League (TML) and Texas City Attorneys Association (TCAA) argued that: this issue should be left to local communities to decide; the issue presented in the request is inappropriate for the attorney general process; and the attorney general should not opine on the scope and meaning of Section 361.0961, Health and Safety Code. TML and TCAA alternatively argued that a plastic bag is not a “container” or “package” under Section 361.0961; legislators do not read Section 361.0961 as a ban on plastic bag ordinances, as evidenced by bills filed in recent legislative sessions; cities may regulate plastic bags for purposes other than solid waste management; and Subsection 361.0961(a)(1) only requires that ordinances be adopted in the manner provided by state law. The comments were filed on March 24, 2014.