Attorney General Opinions

September 04, 2015

Legislative News

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

Attorney General Opinions 

KP-0029 Authority of a county hospital district to create a charitable organization under section 281.0565 of the Health and Safety Code and related governance questions. (RQ-0008-KP) Summary: The Tarrant County Hospital District (the "District") is authorized to create and fund a physician group under subsection 281.0565(b) of the Health and Safety Code if it reasonably determines in good faith that the expenditure will serve a public purpose, and it puts sufficient controls in place to ensure that the public purpose is carried out and that the District receives a return benefit. The District is authorized by subsection 285.091(a) of the Health and Safety Code to structure the managerial and oversight authority of a physician group as it deems necessary to carry out the functions of or provide services to the District. To the extent that a physician group formed pursuant to subsection 281.0565(b) is not delegated any governmental authority, it is likely not a "governmental body" for purposes of the Open Meetings Act and thus is not subject to its provisions. Whether a physician group formed pursuant to subsection 281.0565(b) is a "governmental body" subject to the Public Information Act requires the resolution of certain fact issues and is thus beyond the purview of an attorney general opinion.  

KP-0030 Whether a county attorney with criminal jurisdiction may, pursuant to section 41.005, Government Code, retain a commission on bond forfeiture collection. (RQ-0010-KP) Summary: Subsection 41.005(b) of the Government Code authorizes a county attorney with criminal jurisdiction who represents the state in related bond forfeiture proceedings to retain a portion of bond forfeiture collections as a commission without the approval of the commissioners court. 

KP-0031 Duty of a county to provide legal representation for a former county employee under subsections 157.901(a) and (b) of the Local Government Code. (RQ-0011-KP) Summary: Section 157.901 of the Local Government Code does not require a commissioners court to employ private counsel to provide legal representation for a county official or employee unless the official or employee has been sued for an "action arising from the performance of public duty," and the commissioners court determines in good faith that such representation serves a legitimate interest of the county, not merely the private interests of the individual. 

KP-0032 Whether an independent school district police chief may simultaneously serve as a constable in the precinct in which the school district is located. (RQ-0012-KP) Summary: Neither the Texas Constitution nor the common-law doctrine of incompatibility prohibits an independent school district police chief from simultaneously serving as a constable in the precinct in which the school district is located. 

KP-0033 Whether chapter 681 of the Transportation Code authorizes a political subdivision to contract with a private business to enforce the privileged parking laws within that chapter. (RQ-0013-KP) Summary: A court would likely conclude that section 681.0101 of the Transportation Code does not authorize a political subdivision to appoint a private business to enforce the privileged parking provisions of chapter 681 because a private business is not a "person" under section 681.0101. A court would likely conclude that a political subdivision is not authorized to contract with a private business to enforce the privileged parking provisions of chapter 681.

KP-0034 Whether municipalities or local law enforcement agencies are authorized to impound a motor vehicle for lack of proof of insurance or financial responsibility. (RQ-0014-KP) Summary: Under constitutionally reasonable circumstances, peace officers of the state, including those working for local law enforcement agencies and municipalities, may impound a vehicle to protect the public safety when the driver fails to provide evidence of financial responsibility. A home-rule municipality, and likely a general-law municipality, has authority to adopt an ordinance regarding the impoundment of vehicles for the offense of lack of financial responsibility provided that such an ordinance is not in conflict with any statute and also conforms to any constitutional constraints. A court would likely conclude that a municipality may not condition release of a vehicle impounded for lack of evidence of financial responsibility upon presentation of such evidence to a vehicle storage facility. 

 

Requests for Attorney General Opinions

RQ-0042-KP: The Honorable Marco A. Montemayor, Webb County Attorney, Questions regarding the continuation of longevity pay after a county employee is elected to a county office. 

RQ-0044-KP: The Honorable Larry Phillips, Chair, Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety, Questions relating to the position of Vice Chairman on the Maverick County Hospital District Board of Directors. 

RQ-0046-KP: The Honorable Jeri Yenne, Brazoria County Criminal District Attorney, Circumstances under which a truancy court may refer a child to the juvenile probation department, and circumstances under which a child may be prosecuted for delinquent conduct.