Your rights, responsibilities when seeking public records in Texas

If you’ve seen news reports on suspicious state contracts or chemical waste pits or officials’ text messages in the Waco biker shootout, you may notice a recurring theme: Government records obtained through the Texas Public Information Act.

Fortunately, our state’s public information law, created in the early 1970s, presumes government records are open unless a specific exemption in the law keeps the documents off limits.

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Texas Supreme Court ruling shields contract details

A recent Texas Supreme Court ruling has made it easier for private companies to keep secret details of their contracts with the state and local governments, a move that public information advocates warn is ripe for abuse.

"It's one of the worst rulings to ever come out of the Texas Supreme Court," said Joe Larsen, an open government attorney who also serves on the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. Continue…

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New Texas state law subjects campus police to records requests

Due to a new Texas state law, Rice University Police Department will now be subject to open records requests for information on their policing activity, which includes correspondences, activity logs and other documents.

This requirement marks a continuation toward increased transparency by RUPD, following the introduction of body cameras to its officers in April. Continue…

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University of Texas system moves toward transparency

With a new president in Gregory Fenves and a fairly new chancellor in William McRaven, UT’s leadership has gotten a chance to rebrand itself following years of acrimonious disputes between former President Bill Powers and the Board of Regents.

By keeping its decision-making processes as transparent as possible, their terms have gotten off to a good start. Continue…

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Watchdog: Open-records site designed to pull back curtain on Texas government

I have a 20-year frustration about something in Texas, a problem I’ve never solved, an itch that won’t go away.

Texas has a remarkable law. It’s called the Texas Public Information Act. The TPIA is supposed to remove any steel doors protecting local, county, school and state governments from prying eyes — and replace them with glass walls.

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Gubernatorial candidate Abbott calls for greater privacy protections, legalizing open carry

From The Republic: AUSTIN, Texas — Republican candidate for governor Greg Abbott said Tuesday he supports making it legal to openly carry handguns in public and wants to place stricter limits on state agencies selling personal information from public records.

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Changes in Texas open government law

From Mondaq: Governmental entities in Texas, and the companies that transact with them, should be aware of new changes in Texas “open government” law that may affect how they do business. On September 1, 2013, changes in state law became effective that are intended to make Texas “open government” law more open. These changes affect the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) and the obligations of public officials, employees and private companies to comply with Texas open records law.

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NFOIC’s State FOIA Friday for June 21, 2013

A few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week. While you're at it, be sure to check out State FOIA Friday Archives.

 

Advocates, journalists honored for supporting open government

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NFOIC’s State FOIA Friday for May 24, 2013

We’re sorry we missed our usual State FOIA Friday last week (May 17) but we were otherwise occupied in New Orleans for the annual FOI Summit.

A few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week. While you're at it, be sure to check out State FOIA Friday Archives.

 

UW-Madison seeks limits on open records regarding research

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Sunshine Week reminds public officials of their obligation to openness

Editorial from Star-Telegram:

The Texas Open Meetings Act is designed to let members of the public see what their elected officials are up to. But sometimes, you watch them in action and still wonder what they’re up to.

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Started in Florida in 2002, Sunshine Week spotlights the public’s right to know.

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