AG Opinions and Requests

June 26, 2020

Legislative News

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

Attorney General Opinions

Opinion relating to public employees. KP-0310: Application of the U.S. Supreme Court's Janus decision to public employee payroll deductions for employee organization membership fees and dues (RQ-0330-KP). Public employers must ensure that employee consent to a payroll deduction for membership fees or dues in a union or employee organization is collected in a way that ensures voluntariness, such as requiring direct provision of authorization from an employee to an employer. A one-time, perpetual consent to a payroll deduction for membership fees or dues is inconsistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's holding in Janus; however, consent for one year from the time given is likely valid and is sufficiently contemporaneous to be constitutional.

Opinion relating to roads and bridges. KP-0311: Whether a county may call a bond election to fund the construction, repair, improvement and maintenance of city roads (RQ-0319-KP). A county may call a bond election to fund improvements to city streets that are integral or a connecting link to the county's roads or state highways.

Opinion relating to mental health services. KP-0312: Whether a hearing on an application for court-ordered mental health services conducted pursuant to Section 574.031 of the Health and Safety Code must be recorded by an official court reporter (RQ-0321-KP). Hearings for court-ordered mental health services held in Kerr County pursuant to Health and Safety Code subsection 574.031(g) are likely required to be recorded by an official court reporter.

Opinion related to roads and bridges. KP-0313: Whether over-the-road buses traveling on interstate highways in Texas are subject to the tandem axle weight limitations established in Transportation Code subsection 621.101(a)(2) (RQ-0320-KP). The federal exemption for over-the-road buses does not preempt Texas Transportation Code Section 621.101; therefore, over-the-road buses traveling on Texas interstate highways are subject to the tandem axle weight limits in subsection 621.101(a)(2).

Opinion relating to historical preservation. KP-0314: Authority of the Texas Facilities Commission and the State Preservation Board in relation to a Bill of Rights monument authorized by House Concurrent Resolution No. 111, adopted by the 80th Legislature (RQ-0322-KP). House Concurrent Resolution 111, passed by the 80th Legislature, gives the State Preservation Board and the Texas Facilities Commission discretion concerning the construction of a Bill of Rights monument.

Opinion relating to county finances. KP-0315: Application of Article III, Section 53 of the Texas Constitution to invoices submitted to a county under an amended service contract for services performed prior to the amendment (RQ-0323-KP). A county's payment of an amount owed under a contract for services required by that contract does not violate Texas Constitution Article III, Section 53, nor is an amended contract supported by sufficient additional consideration in violation of that constitutional prohibition.

Opinion relating to water regulation. KP-0316: Whether the San Antonio River Authority may release an inundation easement that has been declared surplus without receiving fair market value (RQ-0325-KP). Water Code subsection 49.226(b) does not require a river authority to obtain fair market value to release a surplus inundation easement acquired by dedication or otherwise without the payment of compensation.

Opinion relating to historical preservation. KP-0317: Authority of Fort Bend Independent School District to maintain a historic cemetery discovered on a school construction site (RQ-0326-KP). The law generally does not prohibit a property owner from maintaining an abandoned cemetery on its land so long as the owner does not construct any improvements on the property that disturb the cemetery.

Requests for Attorney General Opinions

Request relating to permits and licensing. RQ-0355-KP: Ms. Sara Oates, Chair, Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board; authority of the Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board to exempt licensed or certified appraisers from the statutory requirement to comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice when performing a property evaluation allowed under the federal Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines.

Request relating to face masks. RQ-0356-KP: Hon. Vince Ryan, Harris County Attorney; County authority to require facial coverings in courtrooms, courthouses, and county buildings.

Request relating to county auditors. RQ-0359-KP: Hon. Scott R. Peal, Chambers County Attorney; Authority to remove a county auditor and procedure to do so.