AG Opinions and Requests

January 11, 2019

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-0226 Whether a legislator may receive payment from a unit of local government for lobbying activities (RQ-0228-KP) Summary: No statute specifically precludes a legislator from accepting compensation to represent a unit of local government before a state agency or another unit of local government. Article XVI, section 40(d) of the Texas constitution precludes a legislator from providing services as an employee of a unit of local government.

A legislator may not solicit, accept, or agree to accept any benefit from any person unless the legislator gives legitimate consideration in a capacity other than as a public servant. Whether a payment to a legislator constitutes bona fide consideration for providing representation before a state agency or a unit of local government will depend on the particular facts.

KP-0228 Whether a member of an independent school district board of trustees may simultaneously serve as the county judge (RQ-0230-KP) Summary: A person may not serve as Jim Hogg County Judge while simultaneously serving as a member of the board of trustees of the Jim Hogg County Independent School District.

KP-0230 Whether a commissioners court may fund certain county departments through revenue generated by a sales and use tax imposed pursuant to chapter 324 of the Tax Code (RQ-0232-KP) Summary: If a specific expense of a county's environmental health, emergency management, mosquito control, or animal services departments relates to the treatment and prevention of physical pain and disease to the public, the county may use funds generated under Tax Code chapter 324 to fund health services provided by the relevant departments.

Whether a county incurs an expense in the accomplishment of a health service under chapter 324 will depend on the specific facts and circumstances concerning the expenditure. Such factual determinations are questions for the commissioners court to determine in the first instance, subject to judicial review.

KP-0232 Whether a funeral provider may infer a decedent’s preferred method of disposition from the contents of a prepaid funeral contract (RQ-0234-KP) Summary: If a prepaid funeral benefits contract lacks an affirmative election regarding the disposition of the contract beneficiary's remains, a funeral provider's inference from the purchases made in the contract does not satisfy the statutory requirement for written directions that specify the disposition of the decedent's remains under subsection 71 l.002(g) of the Health and Safety Code and subsection 154.155l(a)(2) of the Finance Code.

KP-0233 Whether a county clerk whose office does not accept electronic documents for recording must accept and record a printed copy of an electronic document under particular circumstances (RQ-0235-KP) Summary: The county clerk must accept a paper document presented for recording if the document complies with the requirements of the particular statutory provision authorizing the recording of the document. To the extent a printed copy of an electronic document presented for recording by the county clerk concerns real or personal property, it must contain an original signature that meets the requirements of subsection 12.0011(b) of the Property Code to be recorded by a county clerk.

To the extent a county clerk has implemented electronic filing and recording in accordance with state law, the clerk's obligation to accept a document submitted electronically for recording depends on whether the document (1) is a real property record; (2) is submitted by an authorized filer who has completed the requisite enrollment and agreement with the county clerk; and (3) otherwise meets the requirements for recording of real property records submitted electronically.

Requests for Attorney General Opinions

RQ-0260-KP: The Honorable J. D. Lambright, Montgomery County Attorney, Use of funds collected from claims on subdivision road maintenance bonds required under Local Government Code section 232.003(7).

RQ-0261-KP: Ms. Shelly Atteberry, Cooke County Auditor, Whether a private attorney or collection agency that contracts with a county to collect delinquent amounts owed to county courts may charge defendants a fee for the use of credit cards.