AG Opinions and Requests

May 29, 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 open meeting requirements. KP-0302: Matters related to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and its compliance with House Bill 1900 and Senate Bill 615 (RQ-0318-KP); When the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association Board has provided requisite notice to member insurers about an assessment at a regularly-scheduled Board meeting, it is unlikely a court will require the Board to call an additional emergency meeting to provide the same notice. So long as the Board complies with its quorum requirement, Board vacancies do not impair its ability to take action.

Opinion relating to county finances. KP-0303: Authority of a county sheriff to donate forfeiture funds under Code of Criminal Procedure article 59.06 to a nonprofit entity providing office space for mental health services, drug counseling services, and services for the victims of domestic abuse (RQ-0317-KP); A sheriff may donate Code of Criminal Procedure article 59.06 forfeiture funds to a county service center without violating Texas Constitution article III, section 52(a) if the donation serves a public purpose with sufficient controls to ensure accomplishment of the public purpose and the donation will provide a return benefit to the county.

Opinion relating to the authority of counties during a crisis. KP-0304: Whether, when operating under a local disaster declaration, local governments may commandeer private property under Government Code section 418.108 (RQ-0342-KP); Government Code section 418.108 does not authorize a county judge, a mayor of a municipality, or any other local government official to commandeer private property to respond to a disaster.

Opinion relating to permits and licensing. KP-0305: Extension of driver's license expiration dates due to COVID-19 and its effect on firearms purchases (RQ-0346-KP); The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives regulates and enforces federal laws regarding the transfer of firearms, and any guidance provided by this office on the issue is not binding on the ATF. It is therefore left to the ATF to determine the appropriateness of any entry on ATF Form 4473.

Opinion relating to the authority of counties during a crisis. KP-0306: Authority of a county judge to issue emergency orders regulating the business of pawnshops during a declared disaster (RQ-0347-KP); The Dallas County Judge does not have authority to regulate the operation of pawnshops during the COVID-19 disaster declaration.

Opinion relating to appraisal transactions. KP-0307: Procedures for conducting appraisal review board hearings during the COVID-19 disaster (RQ-0351-KP); Tax Code subsection 41.45(o) and 34 Texas Administrative Code subsection 9.805(d) do not allow appraisal review boards to require protest hearings to be conducted by videoconference in lieu of in-person hearings when requested by a property owner.

Opinion relating to the authority of counties during a crisis. KP-0308: Whether a local governmental entity under an emergency declaration has the authority to prevent an owner of a second home from occupying that property or limiting occupancy of housing based on length of the occupancy's term (RQ-0352-KP); The Texas and U.S. Constitutions prohibit governmental action that unlawfully discriminates on the basis of residence; thus, to the extent a local ordinance restricting access to or limiting occupancy of private property exceeds these boundaries, it is unconstitutional.

Requests for Attorney General Opinions

Request relating to the court. RQ-0353-KP: Mr. Rakesh Pandey, Montgomery County Auditor;  Calculation of the minimum salary of a county court at law judge with twelve or more years of accrued service under section 25.0005(a) of the Government Code.

Request relating to county finances. RQ-0354-KP: The Honorable Brian Birdwell, Chair, Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development, Texas Senate; Whether a home rule municipality may enter into a contract with a special utility district that prohibits the city from petitioning for decertification of all or part of the special utility district's certificate of convenience and necessity in the future.