Texas legislators pass transparency bills, but open government work remains unfinished

Texas lawmakers approved two transparency measures to ensure greater access to public records after some governments closed off information during the COVID-19 pandemic.   “We are certainly glad lawmakers made these important improvements to Texas open government laws,” said Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. “And a number of legislators…

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Editorial: Supreme Court denial threatens Texas public records access

The Texas Supreme Court has denied the appeal of a lower court decision permitting a delayed response to a public records request — potentially negating a law that requires a response to requests within 10 business days. In refusing to consider the case of Hartman Newspapers against Fort Bend County, the high court opens the…

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UT, UT System institutions remove online open records request logs

UT-Austin and UT System institutions are no longer posting past open records requests on their websites. The UT System’s open records policy required its institutions to display filed open records requests on their websites for years. But after the UT System amended this policy in September, UT-Austin and multiple UT institutions have removed these postings….

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Lawmaker Wants Public Info Restricted to Texans

A Republican lawmaker has proposed a bill that would let Texas ignore public information requests from people who are not permanent residents of the state.

The Texas Public Information Act entitles any person, regardless of citizenship or residency, to obtain information about government agencies, public officials and government employees.

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FOI Foundation Texas offers Nov. 16 Open Government Seminar in Denton

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas will host an Open Government Seminar in Denton in November featuring training in public meetings and public records laws.

The non-profit FOI Foundation, in cooperation with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office and the Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT, will offer the one-day seminar on Wednesday, Nov. 16. It is designed for government employees, journalists, attorneys and members of the general public interested in the Texas Public Information Act and Texas Open Meetings Act.

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Houston Sheriff still shielding killer’s record

Houston authorities declined this week to open up their case files on Victor Reyes, a Mexican national with a long criminal record whose 2015 shooting spree killed two and wounded three before he was killed by a police officer.

The move by Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman highlights the veil of secrecy hanging over the files of foreign nationals convicted of crimes — including the so-called “worst of the worst” that immigration authorities say remain a primary focus for deportation.

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Dallas County booking records can be kept secret

A ruling from the Texas Attorney General's office has just made it more difficult to access information about the kinds of crimes undocumented immigrants have committed in Dallas County — and whether local officials turned those offenders over to federal authorities.

In a Nov. 13 ruling, the AG's office determined that because the Dallas County Sheriff's Office booking system is maintained for use by the court system, it is not subject to the Texas Public Information Act.

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