Attorney General Opinions

February 06, 2016

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-0055 Responsibilities of the Texas Forensic Science Commission under article 39.14 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. (RQ-0032-KP) Summary: A court would likely conclude that article 39.14(h) of the Code of Criminal Procedure does not create a duty for the Texas Forensic Science Commission to notify relevant parties of exculpatory, impeachment, or mitigating information.

Given the conclusion that the Commission likely has no notification duties under article 39.14(h), the prosecutor member of the Commission would have a duty to comply with article 39.14 only in his or her capacity as a prosecutor for the state in a particular case.

KP-0057 The legality of fantasy sports leagues under Texas law. (RQ-0071-KP) Summary: Under section 47.02 of the Penal Code, a person commits an offense if he or she makes a bet on the partial or final result of a game or contest or on the performance of a participant in a game or contest. Because the outcome of games in daily fantasy sports leagues depends partially on chance, an individual's payment of a fee to participate in such activities is a bet. Accordingly, a court would likely determine that participation in daily fantasy sports leagues is illegal gambling 'under section 47.02 of the Penal Code.

Though participating in a traditional fantasy sports league is also illegal gambling under section 47.02, participants in such leagues may avail themselves of a statutory defense to prosecution under section 47.02(b) of the Penal Code when play is in a private place, no person receives any economic benefit other than personal winnings, and the risks of winning or losing are the same for all participants.

KP-0059 Authority of a county commissioners court to establish requirements for indigent health care under the Texas Indigent Health Care and Treatment Act and relevant federal law. 
(RQ-0041-KP) Summary: State statutory and administrative law prohibits a county commissioners court from adopting county requirements that categorically restrict eligibility for county indigent health care contrary to state and federal law. Whether an alien who is an eligible county resident under the Texas Indigent Health Care and Treatment Act may receive county indigent health care will depend on the relevant provisions of the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 governing the specific benefits at issue.

KP-0060 Questions regarding the continuation of longevity pay after a county employee is elected to a county office. (RQ-0042-KP) Summary: A commissioners court order granting longevity pay to certain qualified employees and allowing employees to transfer the longevity pay to another county department if they are hired there does not continue in effect for an individual who later becomes a county officer.

A county officer who does not challenge the officer's proposed salary in accordance with the procedure and deadline specified by subsection 152.016(a) of the Local Government Code in any given year has effectively waived any salary grievance for the upcoming fiscal year.

KP-0062 Questions relating to the position of Vice Chairman on the Maverick County Hospital District Board of Directors. (RQ-0044-KP) Summary: A court would likely conclude that the position of vice chair on the board of the Maverick County Hospital District is valid.
Absent guidance from chapter 1118 of the Special District Local Laws Code, questions regarding the role and duties of the vice chair upon the resignation of the chair are for the District's board to resolve.

Requests for Attorney General Opinions

RQ-0090-KP: The Honorable Micheal E. Jimerson, Rusk County and District Attorney, Whether the Rusk County School District tax violates article VIII, section 1-e of the Texas Constitution.

RQ-0093-KP: Ms. Brandy Lee, Upshur County Auditor, Whether a county may participate in a non-profit organization’s flag project.