Attorney General Opinions

November 15, 2012

Legislative News

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TAC has highlighted recent Attorney General Opinions and Requests for Opinions of interest to counties.

GA-0972:  Authority of an employer to ban the transport and storage of handguns by concealed handgun license holders in locked private vehicles on employee parking lots (RQ-1061-GA). Summary: An employer subject to section 52.061 of the Labor Code may not ban the transport and storage of handguns in locked private vehicles by employees with concealed handgun licenses in employee parking areas by posting the notice authorized by section 30.06 of the Penal Code.A federally approved facility security plan under either the Maritime Transportation Security Act or the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards is not federal law that would preempt section 52.061 of the Labor Code.No statute of which we are aware provides a specific remedy for employees whose employers violate section 52.061. And the Legislature has not authorized this office or any other state agency to take corrective action. Despite the lack of a statutory remedy, an aggrieved employee may, depending on the circumstances, have the ability to sue an offending employer under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act.

 GA-0973: Whether a taxing authority may impose, and a county is obligated to pay, penalties and interest on ad valorem taxes imposed on real property purchased by a county for the year of sale that have remained unpaid (RQ-1063-GA). Summary: When a political subdivision acquires property from a private party and the property qualifies for a constitutional or statutory tax exemption, the exemption generally precludes charging the political subdivision penalties and interest for any outstanding ad valorem taxes. Whether a particular piece of property acquired by a political subdivision is tax exempt on a specific date will depend on particular facts regarding the property.

GA-0974: Whether there is a conflict between two provisions of the Transportation Code that permit judges and peace officers to omit their residence address from their drivers' licenses, and a provision of the Tax Code that requires the submission of proof of the residence address of an applicant for a homestead exemption (RQ-1060-GA). Summary: If a federal or state judge, the spouse of a federal or state judge, or a peace officer is otherwise entitled to claim a homestead exemption under section 11.13 of the Tax Code, he or she may comply with the requirements of section 11.43(n) of the Tax Code by producing a personal identification certificate issued by the Department of Public Safety and showing his or her residence address. The Legislature has prohibited chief appraisers from accepting alternative forms of identification from homestead exemption applicants.

Requests for Attorney General Opinions

RQ-1092-GA: The Honorable Barbara Cargill , Chair, State Board of Education, Texas Education Agency, Whether certain investment decisions for the Permanent School Fund must be made using competitive processes under the State Purchasing and General Services Act.

RQ-1093-GA: The Honorable Jim Murphy, Chairman, Partnership Advisory Commission, Texas House of Representatives, Whether the Partnership Advisory Commission is subject to the requirements of the Open Meetings Act.

RQ-1094-GA: The Honorable R. Scott McKee, Henderson County District Attorney, 173rd Judicial District, Whether article 42.12, section 15(h) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which authorizes a judge to award confined defendants time credit for participation in an educational, vocational or treatment program, violates the Texas Constitution.

RQ-1095-GA: The Honorable Richard R. Hicks, III, Caldwell County Criminal District Attorney, Whether a commissioners court may change the designated day of the week it convenes during the current fiscal year under section 81.005, Local Government Code.

RQ-1096-GA: The Honorable Joe Shannon, Jr., Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney, Whether a county auditor has a right to access inmate property in a county jail to compare it with inmate property receipts.

RQ-1097-GA: The Honorable Dan Patrick, Chair, Committee on Education, Texas State Senate, Whether the Texas Constitution prevents local political subdivisions from recognizing domestic partnerships by granting benefits previously only available to married couples.

RQ-1099-GA: Ms. Phyllis L. Martin, Montgomery County Auditor, Appointment and compensation of temporary justices of the peace.