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Open Records Act

Public Information Act

The following version of the Texas Public Information Act includes amendments enacted by the Seventy-sixth Legislature, 1999. The amendments were compiled by the Open Records Division of the Office of the Attorney General. The Office of the Attorney General makes no warranty as to the accuracy of the data, and users rely on the data entirely at their own risk.


Text of the Texas Public Information Act

Government Code Chapter 552. Public Information

Subchapter A. General Provisions

§ 552.001. Policy; Construction

(a) Under the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative government that adheres to the principle that government is the servant and not the master of the people, it is the policy of this state that each person is entitled, unless otherwise expressly provided by law, at all times to complete information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created. The provisions of this chapter shall be liberally construed to implement this policy.

(b) This chapter shall be liberally construed in favor of granting a request for information.

 

§ 552.002. Definition of Public Information; Media Containing Public Information

(a) In this chapter, "public information" means information that is collected, assembled, or maintained under a law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business:

    (1) by a governmental body; or

    (2) for a governmental body and the governmental body owns the information or has a right of access to it.

(b) The media on which public information is recorded include:

    (1) paper;

    (2) film;

    (3) a magnetic, optical, or solid state device that can store an electronic signal;

    (4) tape;

    (5) Mylar;

    (6) linen;

    (7) silk; and

    (8) vellum.

(c) The general forms in which the media containing public information exist include a book, paper, letter, document, printout, photograph, film, tape, microfiche, microfilm, photostat, sound recording, map and drawing and a voice, data, or video representation held in computer memory.

 

§ 552.003. Definitions

In this chapter:

(1) "Governmental body":

    (A) means:
      (i) a board, commission, department, committee, institution, agency, or office that is within or is created by the executive or legislative branch of state government and that is directed by one or more elected or appointed members;

      (ii) a county commissioners court in the state;

      (iii) a municipal governing body in the state;

      (iv) a deliberative body that has rulemaking or quasi-judicial power and that is classified as a department, agency, or political subdivision of a county or municipality;

      (v) a school district board of trustees;

      (vi) a county board of school trustees;

      (vii) a county board of education;

      (viii) the governing board of a special district;

      (ix) the governing body of a nonprofit corporation organized under Chapter 67, Water Code, that provides a water supply or wastewater service, or both, and is exempt from ad valorem taxation under Section 11.30, Tax Code; and

      (x) the part, section, or portion of an organization, corporation, commission, committee, institution, or agency that spends or that is supported in whole or in part by public funds; and

    (B) does not include the judiciary.

(2) "Manipulation" means the process of modifying, reordering, or decoding of information with human intervention.

(3) "Processing" means the execution of a sequence of coded instructions by a computer producing a result.

(4) "Programming" means the process of producing a sequence of coded instructions that can be executed by a computer.

(5) "Public funds" means funds of the state or of a governmental subdivision of the state.

(6) "Requestor" means a person who submits a request to a governmental body for inspection or copies of public information.

 

§ 552.0035. Certain Property Owners' Associations Subject to Law

A property owners' association is subject to this chapter in the same manner as a governmental body if:

(1) membership in the property owners' association is mandatory for owners or for a defined class of owners of private real property in a defined geographic area in a county with a population of 2.8 million or more or in a county adjacent to a county with a population of 2.8 million or more;

(2) the property owners' association has the power to make mandatory special assessments for capital improvements or mandatory regular assessments; and

(3) the amount of the mandatory special or regular assessments is or has ever been based in whole or in part on the value at which the state or a local governmental body assesses the property for purposes of ad valorem taxation under Section 20, Article VIII, Texas Constitution.

 

§ 552.0035. Access to Information of Judiciary

(a) Access to information collected, assembled, or maintained by or for the judiciary is governed by rules adopted by the Supreme Court of Texas or by other applicable laws and rules.

(b) This section does not address whether information is considered to be information collected, assembled, or maintained by or for the judiciary.

 

§ 552.004. Preservation of Information

A governmental body or, for information of an elective county office, the elected county officer, may determine a time for which information that is not currently in use will be preserved, subject to any applicable rule or law governing the destruction and other disposition of state and local government records or public information.

 

§ 552.005. Effect of Chapter on Scope of Civil Discovery

(a) This chapter does not affect the scope of civil discovery under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

(b) Exceptions from disclosure under this chapter do not create new privileges from discovery.

 

§ 552.0055. Subpoena Duces Tecum or Discovery Request

A subpoena duces tecum or a request for discovery that is issued in compliance with a statute or a rule of civil or criminal procedure is not considered to be a request for information under this chapter.

 

§ 552.006. Effect of Chapter on Withholding Public Information

This chapter does not authorize the withholding of public information or limit the availability of public information to the public, except as expressly provided by this chapter.

 

§ 552.007. Voluntary Disclosure of Certain Information When Disclosure Not Required

(a) This chapter does not prohibit a governmental body or its officer for public information from voluntarily making part or all of its information available to the public, unless the disclosure is expressly prohibited by law or the information is confidential under law.

(b) Public information made available under Subsection (a) must be made available to any person.

 

§ 552.008. Information for Legislative Purposes

(a) This chapter does not grant authority to withhold information from individual members, agencies, or committees of the legislature to use for legislative purposes.

(b) A governmental body on request by an individual member, agency, or committee of the legislature shall provide public information, including confidential information, to the requesting member, agency, or committee for inspection or duplication in accordance with this chapter if the requesting member, agency or committee states that the public information is requested under this chapter for legislative purposes. A governmental body, by providing public information under this section that is confidential or otherwise excepted from required disclosure under law, does not waive or affect the confidentiality of the information for purposes of state or federal law or waive the right to assert exceptions to required disclosure of the information in the future. The governmental body may require the requesting individual member of the legislature, the requesting legislative agency or committee, or the members or employees of the requesting entity who will view or handle information that is received under this section and that is confidential under law to sign a confidentiality agreement that covers the information and requires that:

    (1) the information not be disclosed outside the requesting entity, or within the requesting entity for purposes other than the purpose for which it was received;

    (2) the information be labeled as confidential;

    (3) the information be kept securely; or

    (4) the number of copies made of the information or the notes taken from the information that implicate the confidential nature of the information be controlled, with all copies or notes that are not destroyed or returned to the governmental body remaining confidential and subject to the confidentiality agreement.

(c) This section does not affect:

    (1) the right of an individual member, agency, or committee of the legislature to obtain information from a governmental body under other law, including under the rules of either house of the legislature;

    (2) the procedures under which the information is obtained under other law; or

    (3) the use that may be made of the information obtained under other law.

 

§ 552.009. Open Records Steering Committee: Advice to Commission; Electronic Availability of Public Information

(a) The open records steering committee is composed of:

    (1) a representative of each of the following, appointed by its governing entity:
      (A) the attorney general's office;

      (B) the comptroller's office;

      (C) the Department of Public Safety;

      (D) the Department of Information Resources;

      (E) the Texas State Library and Archives Commission; and

      (F) the General Services Commission;

    (2) five public members, appointed by the General Services Commission; and

    (3) a representative of each of the following types of local governments, appointed by the General Services Commission:

      (A) a municipality;

      (B) a county; and

      (C) a school district.

(b) The representative of the General Services Commission is the presiding officer of the committee. The committee shall meet as prescribed by committee procedures or at the call of the presiding officer.

(c) The committee shall advise the General Services Commission regarding the commission's performance of its duties under this chapter.

(d) The members of the committee who represent state governmental bodies and the public members of the committee shall periodically study and determine the types of public information for which it would be useful to the public or cost-effective for the government if the type of information were made available by state governmental bodies by means of the Internet or another electronic format. The committee shall report its findings and recommendations to the governor, the presiding officer of each house of the legislature, and the budget committee and state affairs committee of each house of the legislature.

(e) Chapter 2110 does not apply to the size, composition, or duration of the committee. Chapter 2110 applies to the reimbursement of a public member's expenses related to service on the committee. Any reimbursement of the expenses of a member who represents a state or local governmental body may be paid only from funds available to the state or local governmental body the member represents.

 

§ 552.010. State Governmental Bodies: Fiscal and Other Information Relating to Making Information Accessible

(a) Each state governmental body shall report to the Legislative Budget Board the information the board requires regarding:

    (1) the number and nature of requests for information the state governmental body processes under this chapter in the period covered by the report; and

    (2) the cost to the state governmental body in that period in terms of capital expenditures and personnel time of:

      (A) responding to requests for information under this chapter; and

      (B) making information available to the public by means of the Internet or another electronic format.

(b) The Legislative Budget Board shall design and phase in the reporting requirements in a way that:

    (1) minimizes the reporting burden on state governmental bodies; and

    (2) allows the legislature and state governmental bodies to estimate the extent to which it is cost-effective for state government, and if possible the extent to which it is cost-effective or useful for members of the public, to make information available to the public by means of the Internet or another electronic format as a supplement or alternative to publicizing the information only in other ways or making the information available only in response to requests made under this chapter.

(c) The open records steering committee and the state auditor, at the request of the Legislative Budget Board, shall assist the board in designing its reporting requirements under this section. The board shall share the information reported under this section with the open records steering committee.

 

§ 552.011. Uniformity

The attorney general shall maintain uniformity in the application, operation, and interpretation of this chapter. To perform this duty, the attorney general may prepare, distribute, and publish any materials, including detailed and comprehensive written decisions and opinions, that relate to or are based on this chapter.

 

Subchapter B. Right of Access to Public Information

§ 552.021. Availability of Public Information

Public information is available to the public at a minimum during the normal business hours of the governmental body.

 

§ 552.022. Categories of Public Information; Examples

(a) Without limiting the amount or kind of information that is public information under this chapter, the following categories of information are public information and not excepted from required disclosure under this chapter unless they are expressly confidential under other law:

    (1) a completed report, audit, evaluation, or investigation made of, for, or by a governmental body, except as provided by Section 552.108;

    (2) the name, sex, ethnicity, salary, title, and dates of employment of each employee and officer of a governmental body;

    (3) information in an account, voucher, or contract relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds by a governmental body;

    (4) the name of each official and the final record of voting on all proceedings in a governmental body;

    (5) all working papers, research material, and information used to estimate the need for or expenditure of public funds or taxes by a governmental body, on completion of the estimate;

    (6) the name, place of business, and the name of the municipality to which local sales and use taxes are credited, if any, for the named person, of a person reporting or paying sales and use taxes under Chapter 151, Tax Code;

    (7) a description of an agency's central and field organizations, including:

      (A) the established places at which the public may obtain information, submit information or requests, or obtain decisions;

      (B) the employees from whom the public may obtain information, submit information or requests, or obtain decisions;

      (C) in the case of a uniformed service, the members from whom the public may obtain information, submit information or requests, or obtain decisions; and

      (D) the methods by which the public may obtain information, submit information or requests, or obtain decisions;

    (8) a statement of the general course and method by which an agency's functions are channeled and determined, including the nature and requirements of all formal and informal policies and procedures;

    (9) a rule of procedure, a description of forms available or the places at which forms may be obtained, and instructions relating to the scope and content of all papers, reports, or examinations;

    (10) a substantive rule of general applicability adopted or issued by an agency as authorized by law, and a statement of general policy or interpretation of general applicability formulated and adopted by an agency;

    (11) each amendment, revision, or repeal of information described by Subdivisions (7)-(10);

    (12) final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, and orders issued in the adjudication of cases;

    (13) a policy statement or interpretation that has been adopted or issued by an agency;

    (14) administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public;

    (15) information regarded as open to the public under an agency's policies;

    (16) information that is in a bill for attorney's fees and that is not privileged under the attorney-client privilege;

    (17) information that is also contained in a public court record; and

    (18) a settlement agreement to which a governmental body is a party.

(b) A court in this state may not order a governmental body or an officer for public information to withhold from public inspection any category of public information described by Subsection (a) or to not produce the category of public information for inspection or duplication, unless the category of information is expressly made confidential under other law.

 

§ 552.023. Special Right of Access to Confidential Information

(a) A person or a person's authorized representative has a special right of access, beyond the right of the general public, to information held by a governmental body that relates to the person and that is protected from public disclosure by laws intended to protect that person's privacy interests.

(b) A governmental body may not deny access to information to the person, or the person's representative, to whom the information relates on the grounds that the information is considered confidential by privacy principles under this chapter but may assert as grounds for denial of access other provisions of this chapter or other law that are not intended to protect the person's privacy interests.

(c) A release of information under Subsections (a) and (b) is not an offense under Section 552.352.

(d) A person who receives information under this section may disclose the information to others only to the extent consistent with the authorized purposes for which consent to release the information was obtained.

(e) Access to information under this section shall be provided in the manner prescribed by Sections 552.229 and 552.307.

 

§ 552.024. Electing to Disclose Address and Telephone Number

(a) Each employee or official of a governmental body and each former employee or official of a governmental body shall choose whether to allow public access to the information in the custody of the governmental body that relates to the person's home address, home telephone number, or social security number, or that reveals whether the person has family members.

(b) Each employee and official and each former employee and official shall state that person's choice under Subsection (a) to the main personnel officer of the governmental body in a signed writing not later than the 14th day after the date on which:

    (1) the employee begins employment with the governmental body;

    (2) the official is elected or appointed; or

    (3) the former employee or official ends service with the governmental body.

(c) If the employee or official or former employee or official chooses not to allow public access to the information, the information is protected under Subchapter C.

(d) If an employee or official or a former employee or official fails to state the person's choice within the period established by this section, the information is subject to public access.

(e) An employee or official or former employee or official of a governmental body who wishes to close or open public access to the information may request in writing that the main personnel officer of the governmental body close or open access.

 

§ 552.025. Tax Rulings and Opinions

(a) A governmental body with taxing authority that issues a written determination letter, technical advice memorandum, or ruling that concerns a tax matter shall index the letter, memorandum, or ruling by subject matter.

(b) On request, the governmental body shall make the index prepared under Subsection (a) and the document itself available to the public, subject to the provisions of this chapter.

(c) Subchapter C does not authorize withholding from the public or limiting the availability to the public of a written determination letter, technical advice memorandum, or ruling that concerns a tax matter and that is issued by a governmental body with taxing authority.

 

§ 552.026. Education Records

This chapter does not require the release of information contained in education records of an educational agency or institution, except in conformity with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, Sec. 513, Pub. L. No. 93-380, 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232g.

 

§ 552.027. Exception: Information Available Commercially; Resource Material

(a) A governmental body is not required under this chapter to allow the inspection of or to provide a copy of information in a commercial book or publication purchased or acquired by the governmental body for research purposes if the book or publication is commercially available to the public.

(b) Although information in a book or publication may be made available to the public as a resource material, such as a library book, a governmental body is not required to make a copy of the information in response to a request for public information.

(c) A governmental body shall allow the inspection of information in a book or publication that is made part of, incorporated into, or referred to in a rule or policy of a governmental body.

 

§ 552.028. Request for Information From Incarcerated Individual

(a) A governmental body is not required to accept or comply with a request for information from:

    (1) an individual who is imprisoned or confined in a correctional facility; or

    (2) an agent of that individual, other than that individual's attorney when the attorney is requesting information that is subject to disclosure under this chapter.

(b) This section does not prohibit a governmental body from disclosing to an individual described by Subsection (a)(1), or that individual's agent, information held by the governmental body pertaining to that individual.

(c) In this section, "correctional facility" has the meaning assigned by Section 1.07(a), Penal Code.

 

§ 552.029. Right of Access to Certain Information Relating to Inmate of Department of Criminal Justice

Notwithstanding Section 508.313 or 552.131, the following information about an inmate who is confined in a facility operated by or under a contract with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is subject to required disclosure under Section 552.021:

(1) the inmate's name, identification number, age, birthplace, physical description, or general state of health or the nature of an injury to or critical illness suffered by the inmate;

(2) the inmate's assigned unit or the date on which the unit received the inmate, unless disclosure of the information would violate federal law relating to the confidentiality of substance abuse treatment;

(3) the offense for which the inmate was convicted or the judgment and sentence for that offense;

(4) the county and court in which the inmate was convicted;

(5) the inmate's earliest or latest possible release dates;

(6) the inmate's parole date or earliest possible parole date;

(7) any prior confinement of the inmate by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or its predecessor; or

(8) basic information regarding the death of an inmate in custody, an incident involving the use of force, or an alleged crime involving the inmate.

 

Subchapter C. Information Excepted from Required Disclosure

§ 552.101. Exception: Confidential Information

Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if it is information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision.

 

§ 552.102. Exception: Personnel Information

(a) Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if it is information in a personnel file, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, except that all information in the personnel file of an employee of a governmental body is to be made available to that employee or the employee's designated representative as public information is made available under this chapter. The exception to public disclosure created by this subsection is in addition to any exception created by Section 552.024. Public access to personnel information covered by Section 552.024 is denied to the extent provided by that section.

(b) Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if it is a transcript from an institution of higher education maintained in the personnel file of a professional public school employee, except that this section does not exempt from disclosure the degree obtained or the curriculum on a transcript in the personnel file of the employee.

 

§ 552.103. Exception: Litigation or Settlement Negotiations Involving the State or a Political Subdivision

(a) Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if it is information relating to litigation of a civil or criminal nature to which the state or a political subdivision is or may be a party or to which an officer or employee of the state or a political subdivision, as a consequence of the person's office or employment, is or may be a party

(b) For purposes of this section, the state or a political subdivision is considered to be a party to litigation of a criminal nature until the applicable statute of limitations has expired or until the defendant has exhausted all appellate and post conviction remedies in state and federal court.

(c) Information relating to litigation involving a governmental body or an officer or employee of a governmental body is excepted from disclosure under Subsection (a) only if the litigation is pending or reasonably anticipated on the date that the requestor applies to the officer for public information for access to or duplication of the information.

 

§ 552.104. Exception: Information Related to Competition or Bidding

Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if it is information that, if released, would give advantage to a competitor or bidder.

 

§ 552.105. Exception: Information Related to Location or Price of Property

Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if it is information relating to:

(1) the location of real or personal property for a public purpose prior to public announcement of the project; or

(2) appraisals or purchase price of real or personal property for a public purpose prior to the formal award of contracts for the property.

 

§ 552.106. Exception: Certain Legislative Documents

(a) A draft or working paper involved in the preparation of proposed legislation is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

(b) An internal bill analysis or working paper prepared by the governor's office for the purpose of evaluating proposed legislation is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

 

§ 552.107. Exception: Certain Legal Matters

Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if:

(1) it is information that the attorney general or an attorney of a political subdivision is prohibited from disclosing because of a duty to the client under the Texas Rules of Civil Evidence, the Texas Rules of Criminal Evidence, or the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct; or

(2) a court by order has prohibited disclosure of the information.

 

§ 552.108. Exception: Certain Law Enforcement and Prosecutorial Information

(a) Information held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if:

    (1) release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime;

    (2) it is information that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime only in relation to an investigation that did not result in conviction or deferred adjudication; or

    (3) it is information that:

      (A) is prepared by an attorney representing the state in anticipation of or in the course of preparing for criminal litigation; or

      (B) reflects the mental impressions or legal reasoning of an attorney representing the state.

(b) An internal record or notation of a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that is maintained for internal use in matters relating to law enforcement or prosecution is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if:

    (1) release of the internal record or notation would interfere with law enforcement or prosecution;

    (2) the internal record or notation relates to law enforcement only in relation to an investigation that did not result in conviction or deferred adjudication; or

    (3) the internal record or notation:

      (A) is prepared by an attorney representing the state in anticipation of or in the course of preparing for criminal litigation; or

      (B) reflects the mental impressions or legal reasoning of an attorney representing the state.

(c) This section does not except from the requirements of Section 552.021 information that is basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime.

 

§ 552.109. Exception: Certain Private Communications of an Elected Office Holder

Private correspondence or communications of an elected office holder relating to matters the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of privacy are excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

 

§ 552.110. Exception: Trade Secrets; Certain Commercial or Financial Information

(a) A trade secret obtained from a person and privileged or confidential by statute or judicial decision is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

(b) Commercial or financial information for which it is demonstrated based on specific factual evidence that disclosure would cause substantial competitive harm to the person from whom the information was obtained is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

 

§ 552.111. Exception: Agency Memoranda

An interagency or intra-agency memorandum or letter that would not be available by law to a party in litigation with the agency is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

 

§ 552.112. Exception: Certain Information Relating to Regulation of Financial Institutions or Securities

(a) Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if it is information contained in or relating to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by or for an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions or securities, or both.

(b) In this section, "securities" has the meaning assigned by The Securities Act (Article 581-1 et seq., Vernon's Texas Civil Statutes).

 

§ 552.113. Exception: Geological or Geophysical Information

(a) Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if it is:

    (1) an electric log confidential under Subchapter M, Chapter 91, Natural Resources Code;

    (2) geological or geophysical information or data, including maps concerning wells, except information filed in connection with an application or proceeding before an agency; or

    (3) confidential under Subsections (c) through (f).

(b) Information that is shown to or examined by an employee of the General Land Office, but not retained in the land office, is not considered to be filed with the land office.

(c) In this section:

    (1) "Confidential material" includes all well logs, geological, geophysical, geochemical, and other similar data, including maps and other interpretations of the material filed in the General Land Office:
      (A) in connection with any administrative application or proceeding before the land commissioner, the school land board, any board for lease, or the commissioner's or board's staff; or

      (B) in compliance with the requirements of any law, rule, lease, or agreement.

    (2) "Basic electric logs" has the same meaning as it has in Chapter 91, Natural Resources Code.

    (3) "Administrative applications" and "administrative proceedings" include applications for pooling or unitization, review of shut-in royalty payments, review of leases or other agreements to determine their validity, review of any plan of operations, review of the obligation to drill offset wells, or an application to pay compensatory royalty.

(d) Confidential material, except basic electric logs, filed in the General Land Office on or after September 1, 1985, is public information and is available to the public under Section 552.021 on and after the later of:

    (1) five years from the filing date of the confidential material; or

    (2) one year from the expiration, termination, or forfeiture of the lease in connection with which the confidential material was filed.

(e) Basic electric logs filed in the General Land Office on or after September 1, 1985, are either public information or confidential material to the same extent and for the same periods provided for the same logs by Chapter 91, Natural Resources Code. A person may request that a basic electric log that has been filed in the General Land Office be made confidential by filing with the land office a copy of the written request for confidentiality made to the Railroad Commission of Texas for the same log.

(f) The following are public information:

    (1) basic electric logs filed in the General Land Office before September 1, 1985; and

    (2) confidential material, except basic electric logs, filed in the General Land Office before September 1, 1985, provided, that Subsection (d) governs the disclosure of that confidential material filed in connection with a lease that is a valid and subsisting lease on September 1, 1995.

(g) Confidential material may be disclosed at any time if the person filing the material, or the person's successor in interest in the lease in connection with which the confidential material was filed, consents in writing to its release. A party consenting to the disclosure of confidential material may restrict the manner of disclosure and the person or persons to whom the disclosure may be made.

(h) Notwithstanding the confidential nature of the material described in this section, the material may be used by the General Land Office in the enforcement, by administrative proceeding or litigation, of the laws governing the sale and lease of public lands and minerals, the regulations of the land office, the school land board, or of any board for lease, or the terms of any lease, pooling or unitization agreement, or any other agreement or grant.

(i) An administrative hearings officer may order that confidential material introduced in an administrative proceeding remain confidential until the proceeding is finally concluded, or for the period provided in Subsection (d), whichever is later.

(j) Confidential material examined by an administrative hearings officer during the course of an administrative proceeding for the purpose of determining its admissibility as evidence shall not be considered to have been filed in the General Land Office to the extent that the confidential material is not introduced into evidence at the proceeding.

(k) This section does not prevent a person from asserting that any confidential material is exempt from disclosure as a trade secret or commercial information under Section 552.110 or under any other basis permitted by law.

 

§ 552.114. Exception: Student Records

(a) Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if it is information in a student record at an educational institution funded wholly or partly by state revenue.

(b) A record under Subsection (a) shall be made available on the request of:

    (1) educational institution personnel;

    (2) the student involved or the student's parent, legal guardian, or spouse; or

    (3) a person conducting a child abuse investigation required by Subchapter D, Chapter 261, Family Code.

 

§ 552.115. Exception: Birth and Death Records

(a) A birth or death record maintained by the bureau of vital statistics of the Texas Department of Health or a local registration official is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021, except that:

    (1) a birth record is public information and available to the public on and after the 50th anniversary of the date of birth as shown on the record filed with the bureau of vital statistics or local registration official;

    (2) a death record is public information and available to the public on and after the 25th anniversary of the date of death as shown on the record filed with the bureau of vital statistics or local registration official;

    (3) a general birth index or a general death index established or maintained by the bureau of vital statistics or a local registration official is public information and available to the public to the extent the index relates to a birth record or death record that is public information and available to the public under Subdivision (1) or (2); and

    (4) a summary birth index or a summary death index prepared or maintained by the bureau of vital statistics or a local registration official is public information and available to the public.

(b) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), a general birth index or a summary birth index is not public information and is not available to the public if:

    (1) the fact of an adoption or paternity determination can be revealed by the index; or

    (2) the index contains specific identifying information relating to the parents of a child who is the subject of an adoption placement.

 

§ 552.116. Exception: Audit Working Papers

(a) An audit working paper of an audit of the state auditor or the auditor of a state agency or institution of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code, is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021. If information in an audit working paper is also maintained in another record, that other record is not excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 by this section.

(b) In this section:

    (1) "Audit" means an audit authorized or required by a statute of this state or the United States and includes an investigation.

    (2) "Audit working paper" includes all information, documentary or otherwise, prepared or maintained in conducting an audit or preparing an audit report, including:

      (A) intra-agency and interagency communications; and

      (B) drafts of the audit report or portions of those drafts.

 

§ 552.117. Exception: Certain Addresses, Telephone Numbers, Social Security Numbers, and Personal Family Information

Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if it is information that relates to the home address, home telephone number, or social security number, or that reveals whether the following person has family members:

(1) a current or former official or employee of a governmental body, except as otherwise provided by Section 552.024;

(2) a peace officer as defined by Article 2.12, Code of Criminal Procedure, or a security officer commissioned under Section 51.212, Education Code, regardless of whether the officer complies with Section 552.024;

(3) an employee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, regardless of whether the employee complies with Section 552.024; or

(4) a peace officer as defined by Article 2.12, Code of Criminal Procedure, or other law, a reserve law enforcement officer, a commissioned deputy game warden, or a corrections officer in a municipal, county, or state penal institution in this state who was killed in the line of duty, regardless of whether the deceased complied with Section 552.024.

 

§ 552.118. Exception: Triplicate Prescription Form

Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if it is information on or derived from an official prescription form filed with the director of the Department of Public Safety under Section 481.075, Health and Safety Code.

 

§ 552.119. Exception: Photograph of Peace Officer or Certain Security Guards

(a) A photograph that depicts a peace officer as defined by Article 2.12, Code of Criminal Procedure, or a security officer commissioned under Section 51.212, Education Code, the release of which would endanger the life or physical safety of the officer, is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 unless:

    (1) the officer is under indictment or charged with an offense by information;

    (2) the officer is a party in a fire or police civil service hearing or a case in arbitration; or

    (3) the photograph is introduced as evidence in a judicial proceeding.

(b) A photograph exempt from disclosure under Subsection (a) may be made public only if the peace officer or security officer gives written consent to the disclosure.

 

§ 552.120. Exception: Certain Rare Books and Original Manuscripts

A rare book or original manuscript that was not created or maintained in the conduct of official business of a governmental body and that is held by a private or public archival and manuscript repository for the purpose of historical research is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

 

§ 552.121. Exception: Certain Documents Held for Historical Research

An oral history interview, personal paper, unpublished letter, or organizational record of a nongovernmental entity that was not created or maintained in the conduct of official business of a governmental body and that is held by a private or public archival and manuscript repository for the purpose of historical research is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 to the extent that the archival and manuscript repository and the donor of the interview, paper, letter, or record agree to limit disclosure of the item.

 

§ 552.122. Exception: Test Items

(a) A test item developed by an educational institution that is funded wholly or in part by state revenue is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

(b) A test item developed by a licensing agency or governmental body is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

 

§ 552.123. Exception: Name of Applicant for Chief Executive Officer of Institution of Higher Education

The name of an applicant for the position of chief executive officer of an institution of higher education is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021, except that the governing body of the institution must give public notice of the name or names of the finalists being considered for the position at least 21 days before the date of the meeting at which final action or vote is to be taken on the employment of the person.

 

§ 552.124 Exception: Records of Library or Library System

(a) A record of a library or library system, supported in whole or in part by public funds, that identifies or serves to identify a person who requested, obtained, or used a library material or service is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 unless the record is disclosed:

    (1) because the library or library system determines that disclosure is reasonably necessary for the operation of the library or library system and the record is not confidential under other state or federal law;

    (2) under Section 552.023; or

    (3) to a law enforcement agency or a prosecutor under a court order or subpoena obtained after a showing to a district court that:

      (A) disclosure of the record is necessary to protect the public safety; or

      (B) the record is evidence of an offense or constitutes evidence that a particular person committed an offense.

(b) A record of a library or library system that is excepted from required disclosure under this section is confidential.

 

§ 552.125 Exception: Certain Audits

Any documents or information privileged under the Texas Environmental, Health, and Safety Audit Privilege Act are excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

 

§ 552.126. Exception: Name of Applicant for Superintendent of Public School District

The name of an applicant for the position of superintendent of a public school district is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021, except that the board of trustees must give public notice of the name or names of the finalists being considered for the position at least 21 days before the date of the meeting at which a final action or vote is to be taken on the employment of the person.

 

§ 552.127. Exception: Personal Information Relating to Participants in Neighborhood Crime Watch Organization

(a) Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if the information identifies a person as a participant in a neighborhood crime watch organization and relates to the name, home address, business address, home telephone number, or business telephone number of the person.

(b) In this section, "neighborhood crime watch organization" means a group of residents of a neighborhood or part of a neighborhood that is formed in affiliation or association with a law enforcement agency in this state to observe activities within the neighborhood or part of a neighborhood and to take other actions intended to reduce crime in that area.

 

§ 552.128. Exception: Certain Information Submitted by Potential Vendor or Contractor

(a) Information submitted by a potential vendor or contractor to a governmental body in connection with an application for certification as a historically underutilized or disadvantaged business under a local, state, or federal certification program is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021, except as provided by this section.

(b) Notwithstanding Section 552.007 and except as provided by Subsection (c), the information may be disclosed only:

    (1) to a state or local governmental entity in this state, and the state or local governmental entity may use the information only:
      (A) for purposes related to verifying an applicant's status as a historically underutilized or disadvantaged business; or

      (B) for the purpose of conducting a study of a public purchasing program established under state law for historically underutilized or disadvantaged businesses; or

    (2) with the express written permission of the applicant or the applicant's agent.

(c) Information submitted by a vendor or contractor or a potential vendor or contractor to a governmental body in connection with a specific proposed contractual relationship, a specific contract, or an application to be placed on a bidders list, including information that may also have been submitted in connection with an application for certification as a historically underutilized or disadvantaged business, is subject to required disclosure, excepted from required disclosure, or confidential in accordance with other law.

 

§ 552.129. Motor Vehicle Inspection Information

A record created during a motor vehicle emissions inspection under Subchapter F, Chapter 548, Transportation Code, that relates to an individual vehicle or owner of an individual vehicle is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

 

§ 552.130. Exception: Motor Vehicle Records

(a) Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if the information relates to:

    (1) a motor vehicle operator's or driver's license or permit issued by an agency of this state;

    (2) a motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state; or

    (3) a personal identification document issued by an agency of this state or a local agency authorized to issue an identification document.

(b) Information described by Subsection (a) may be released only if, and in the manner, authorized by Chapter 730, Transportation Code.

 

§ 552.131. Exception: Certain Information Held by School District

(a) "Informer" means a student or former student or an employee or former employee of a school district who has furnished a report of another person's or persons' possible violation of criminal, civil, or regulatory law to the school district or the proper regulatory enforcement authority.

(b) An informer's name or information that would substantially reveal the identity of an informer is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

(c) Subsection (b) does not apply:

    (1) if the informer is a student or former student, and the student or former student, or the legal guardian, or spouse of the student or former student consents to disclosure of the student's or former student's name; or

    (2) if the informer is an employee or former employee who consents to disclosure of the employee's or former employee's name; or

    (3) if the informer planned, initiated, or participated in the possible violation.

(d) Information excepted under Subsection (b) may be made available to a law enforcement agency or prosecutor for official purposes of the agency or prosecutor upon proper request made in compliance with applicable law and procedure.

(e) This section does not infringe on or impair the confidentiality of information considered to be confidential by law, whether it be constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision, including information excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

 

§ 552.131. Exception: Certain Information Relating to Inmate of Department of Criminal Justice

(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b) or by Section 552.029, information obtained or maintained by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if it is information about an inmate who is confined in a facility operated by or under a contract with the department.

(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to:

    (1) statistical or other aggregated information relating to inmates confined in one or more facilities operated by or under a contract with the department; or

    (2) information about an inmate sentenced to death.

(c) This section does not affect whether information is considered confidential or privileged under Section 508.313.

(d) A release of information described by Subsection (a) to an eligible entity, as defined by Section 508.313(d), for a purpose related to law enforcement, prosecution, corrections, clemency, or treatment is not considered a release of information to the public for purposes of Section 552.007 and does not waive the right to assert in the future that the information is excepted from required disclosure under this section or other law.

 

§ 552.131. Exception: Public Power Utility Competitive Matters

(a) In this section:

    (1) "Public power utility" means an entity providing electric or gas utility services that is subject to the provisions of this chapter.

    (2) "Public power utility governing body" means the board of trustees or other applicable governing body, including a city council, of a public power utility.

    (3) "Competitive matter" means a utility-related matter that the public power utility governing body in good faith determines by a vote under this section is related to the public power utility's competitive activity, including commercial information, and would, if disclosed, give advantage to competitors or prospective competitors but may not be deemed to include the following categories of information:

      (A) information relating to the provision of distribution access service, including the terms and conditions of the service and the rates charged for the service but not including information concerning utility-related services or products that are competitive;

      (B) information relating to the provision of transmission service that is required to be filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, subject to any confidentiality provided for under the rules of the commission;

      (C) information for the distribution system pertaining to reliability and continuity of service, to the extent not security-sensitive, that relates to emergency management, identification of critical loads such as hospitals and police, records of interruption, and distribution feeder standards;

      (D) any substantive rule of general applicability regarding service offerings, service regulation, customer protections, or customer service adopted by the public power utility as authorized by law;

      (E) aggregate information reflecting receipts or expenditures of funds of the public power utility, of the type that would be included in audited financial statements;

      (F) information relating to equal employment opportunities for minority groups, as filed with local, state, or federal agencies;

      (G) information relating to the public power utility's performance in contracting with minority business entities;

      (H) information relating to nuclear decommissioning trust agreements, of the type required to be included in audited financial statements;

      (I) information relating to the amount and timing of any transfer to an owning city's general fund;

      (J) information relating to environmental compliance as required to be filed with any local, state, or national environmental authority, subject to any confidentiality provided under the rules of those authorities;

      (K) names of public officers of the public power utility and the voting records of those officers for all matters other than those within the scope of a competitive resolution provided for by this section;

      (L) a description of the public power utility's central and field organization, including the established places at which the public may obtain information, submit information and requests, or obtain decisions and the identification of employees from whom the public may obtain information, submit information or requests, or obtain decisions; or

      (M) information identifying the general course and method by which the public power utility's functions are channeled and determined, including the nature and requirements of all formal and informal policies and procedures.

(b) Information or records are excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if the information or records are reasonably related to a competitive matter, as defined in this section. Excepted information or records include the text of any resolution of the public power utility governing body determining which issues, activities, or matters constitute competitive matters. Information or records of a municipally owned utility that are reasonably related to a competitive matter are not subject to disclosure under this chapter, whether or not, under the Utilities Code, the municipally owned utility has adopted customer choice or serves in a multiply certificated service area. This section does not limit the right of a public power utility governing body to withhold from disclosure information deemed to be within the scope of any other exception provided for in this chapter, subject to the provisions of this chapter.

(c) In connection with any request for an opinion of the attorney general under Section 552.301 with respect to information alleged to fall under this exception, in rendering a written opinion under Section 552.306 the attorney general shall find the requested information to be outside the scope of this exception only if the attorney general determines, based on the information provided in connection with the request:

    (1) that the public power utility governing body has failed to act in good faith in making the determination that the issue, matter, or activity in question is a competitive matter; or

    (2) that the information or records sought to be withheld are not reasonably related to a competitive matter.

 

§ 552.131. Exception: Economic Development Information

(a) Information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if the information relates to economic development negotiations involving a governmental body and a business prospect that the governmental body seeks to have locate, stay, or expand in or near the territory of the governmental body and the information relates to:

    (1) a trade secret of the business prospect; or

    (2) commercial or financial information for which it is demonstrated based on specific factual evidence that disclosure would cause substantial competitive harm to the person from whom the information was obtained.

(b) Unless and until an agreement is made with the business prospect, information about a financial or other incentive being offered to the business prospect by the governmental body or by another person is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

(c) After an agreement is made with the business prospect, this section does not except from the requirements of Section 552.021 information about a financial or other incentive being offered to the business prospect:

    (1) by the governmental body; or

    (2) by another person, if the financial or other incentive may directly or indirectly result in the expenditure of public funds by a governmental body or a reduction in revenue received by a governmental body from any source.

 

§ 552.132. Exception: Crime Victim Information

(a) In this section, "crime victim" means a victim under Subchapter B, Chapter 56, Code of Criminal Procedure, who has filed an application for compensation under that subchapter.

(b) A crime victim may elect whether to allow public access to information held by the crime victim's compensation division of the attorney general's office that relates to:

    (1) the name, social security number, address, or telephone number of the crime victim; or

    (2) any other information the disclosure of which would identify or tend to identify the crime victim.

(c) An election under Subsection (b) must be:

    (1) made in writing on a form developed by the attorney general for that purpose and signed by the crime victim; and

    (2) filed with the crime victims' compensation division before the third anniversary of the date that the crime victim filed the application for compensation.

(d) If the crime victim elects not to allow public access to the information, the information is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021. If the crime victim does not make an election under Subsection (b) or elects to allow public access to the information, the information is not excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 unless the information is made confidential or excepted from those requirements by another law.

(e) If the crime victim is awarded compensation under Section 56.34, Code of Criminal Procedure, as of the date of the award of compensation, the name of the crime victim and the amount of compensation awarded to that victim are public information and are not excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021.

 

Subchapter D. Officer for Public Information

§ 552.201. Identity of Officer for Public Information

(a) The chief administrative officer of a governmental body is the officer for public information, except as provided by Subsection (b).

(b) Each elected county officer is the officer for public information and the custodian, as defined by Section 201.003, Local Government Code, of the information created or received by that county officer's office.

 

§ 552.202. Department Heads

Each department head is an agent of the officer for public information for the purposes of complying with this chapter.

 

§ 552.203. General Duties of Officer for Public Information

Each officer for public information, subject to penalties provided in this chapter, shall:

    (1) make public information available for public inspection and copying;

    (2) carefully protect public information from deterioration, alteration, mutilation, loss, or unlawful removal; and

    (3) repair, renovate, or rebind public information as necessary to maintain it properly.

 

§ 552.204. Scope of Responsibility of Officer for Public Information

An officer for public information is responsible for the release of public information as required by this chapter. The officer is not responsible for:

(1) the use made of the information by the requestor; or

(2) the release of information after it is removed from a record as a result of an update, a correction, or a change of status of the person to whom the information pertains.

 

§ 552.205. Informing Public of Basic Rights and Responsibilities Under this Chapter

(a) An officer for public information shall prominently display a sign in the form prescribed by the General Services Commission that contains basic information about the rights of a requestor, the responsibilities of a governmental body, and the procedures for inspecting or obtaining a copy of public information under this chapter. The officer shall display the sign at one or more places in the administrative offices of the governmental body where it is plainly visible to:

    (1) members of the public who request public information in person under this chapter; and

    (2) employees of the governmental body whose duties include receiving or responding to requests under this chapter.

(b) The General Services Commission by rule shall prescribe the content of the sign and the size, shape, and other physical characteristics of the sign. In prescribing the content of the sign, the commission shall include plainly written basic information about the rights of a requestor, the responsibilities of a governmental body, and the procedures for inspecting or obtaining a copy of public information under this chapter that, in the opinion of the commission, is most useful for requestors to know and for employees of governmental bodies who receive or respond to requests for public information to know.

 

Subchapter E. Procedures Related to Access

§ 552.221. Application for Public Information; Production of Public Information

(a) An officer for public information of a governmental body shall promptly produce public information for inspection, duplication, or both on application by any person to the officer.

(b) An officer for public information complies with Subsection (a) by:

    (1) providing the public information for inspection or duplication in the offices of the governmental body; or

    (2) sending copies of the public information by first class United States mail if the person requesting the information requests that copies be provided and pays the postage and any other applicable charges that the requestor has accrued under Subchapter F.

(c) If the requested information is unavailable at the time of the request to examine because it is in active use or in storage, the officer for public information shall certify this fact in writing to the requestor and set a date and hour within a reasonable time when the information will be available for inspection or duplication.

(d) If an officer for public information cannot produce public information for inspection or duplication within 10 business days after the date the information is requested under Subsection (a), the officer shall certify that fact in writing to the requestor and set a date and hour within a reasonable time when the information will be available for inspection or duplication.

 

§ 552.222. Permissible Inquiry by Governmental Body to Requestor

(a) The officer for public information and the officer's agent may not make an inquiry of a requestor except to establish proper identification or except as provided by Subsection (b) or (c).

(b) If what information is requested is unclear to the governmental body, the governmental body may ask the requestor to clarify the request. If a large amount of information has been requested, the governmental body may discuss with the requestor how the scope of a request might be narrowed, but the governmental body may not inquire into the purpose for which information will be used.

(c) If the information requested relates to a motor vehicle record, the officer for public information or the officer's agent may require the requestor to provide additional identifying information sufficient for the officer or the officer's agent to determine whether the requestor is eligible to receive the information under Chapter 730, Transportation Code. In this subsection "motor vehicle record" has the meaning assigned that term by Section 730.003, Transportation Code.

 

§ 552.223. Uniform Treatment of Requests for Information

The officer for public information or the officer's agent shall treat all requests for information uniformly without regard to the position or occupation of the requestor, the person on whose behalf the request is made, or the status of the individual as a member of the media.

 

§ 552.224. Comfort and Facility

The officer for public information or the officer's agent shall give to a requestor all reasonable comfort and facility for the full exercise of the right granted by this chapter.

 

§ 552.225. Time for Examination

(a) A requestor must complete the examination of the information not later than the 10th day after the date the custodian of the information makes it available to the person.

(b) The officer for public information shall extend the initial examination period by an additional 10 days if, within the initial period, the requestor files with the officer for public information a written request for additional time. The officer for public information shall extend an additional examination period by another 10 days if, within the additional period, the requestor files with the officer for public information a written request for more additional time.

(c) The time during which a person may examine information may be interrupted by the officer for public information if the information is needed for use by the governmental body. The period of interruption is not considered to be a part of the time during which the person may examine the information.

 

§ 552.226. Removal of Original Record

This chapter does not authorize a requestor to remove an original copy of a public record from the office of a governmental body.

 

§ 552.227. Research of State Library Holdings Not Required

An officer for public information or the officer's agent is not required to perform general research within the reference and research archives and holdings of state libraries.

 

§ 552.228. Providing Suitable Copy of Public Information Within Reasonable Time

(a) It shall be a policy of a governmental body to provide a suitable copy of public information within a reasonable time after the date on which the copy is requested.

(b) If public information exists in an electronic or magnetic medium, the requestor may request a copy either on paper or in an electronic medium, such as on diskette or on magnetic tape. A governmental body shall provide a copy in the requested medium if:

    (1) the governmental body has the technological ability to produce a copy of the requested information in the requested medium;

    (2) the governmental body is not required to purchase any software or hardware to accommodate the request; and

    (3) provision of a copy of the information in the requested medium will not violate the terms of any copyright agreement between the governmental body and a third party.

(c) If a governmental body is unable to comply with a request to produce a copy of information in a requested medium for any of the reasons described by this section, the governmental body shall provide a paper copy of the requested information or a copy in another medium that is acceptable to the requestor. A governmental body is not required to copy information onto a diskette or other material provided by the requestor but may use its own supplies.

 

§ 552.229. Consent to Release Information Under Special Right of Access

(a) Consent for the release of information excepted from disclosure to the general public but available to a specific person under Sections 552.023 and 552.307 must be in writing and signed by the specific person or the person's authorized representative.

(b) An individual under 18 years of age may consent to the release of information under this section only with the additional written authorization of the individual's parent or guardian.

(c) An individual who has been adjudicated incompetent to manage the individual's personal affairs or for whom an attorney ad litem has been appointed may consent to the release of information under this section only by the written authorization of the designated legal guardian or attorney ad litem.

 

§ 552.230. Rules of Procedure for Inspection and Copying of Public Information

(a) A governmental body may promulgate reasonable rules of procedure under which public information may be inspected and copied efficiently, safely, and without delay.

(b) A rule promulgated under Subsection (a) may not be inconsistent with any provision of this chapter.

 

§ 552.231. Responding to Requests for Information That Require Programming or Manipulation of Data

(a) A governmental body shall provide to a requestor the written statement described by Subsection (b) if the governmental body determines:

    (1) that responding to a request for public information will require programming or manipulation of data; and

    (2) that:

      (A) compliance with the request is not feasible or will result in substantial interference with its ongoing operations; or

      (B) the information could be made available in the requested form only at a cost that covers the programming and manipulation of data.

(b) The written statement must include:

    (1) a statement that the information is not available in the requested form;

    (2) a description of the form in which the information is available;

    (3) a description of any contract or services that would be required to provide the information in the requested form;

    (4) a statement of the estimated cost of providing the information in the requested form as determined in accordance with the rules established by the General Services Commission under Section 552.262; and

    (5) a statement of the anticipated time required to provide the information in the requested form.

(c) The governmental body shall provide the written statement to the requestor within 20 days after the date of the governmental body's receipt of the request. The governmental body has an additional 10 days to provide the statement if the governmental body gives written notice to the requestor, within 20 days after the date of receipt of the request, that the additional time is needed.

(d) On providing the written statement to the requestor as required by this section, the governmental body does not have any further obligation to provide the information in the requested form or in the form in which it is available until the requestor states in writing to the governmental body that the requestor:

    (1) wants the governmental body to provide the information in the requested form according to the cost and time parameters set out in the statement or according to other terms to which the requestor and the governmental body agree; or

    (2) wants the information in the form in which it is available.

(e) The officer for public information of a governmental body shall establish policies that assure the expeditious and accurate processing of requests for information that require programming or manipulation of data. A governmental body shall maintain a file containing all written statements issued under this section in a readily accessible location.

 

§ 552.232. Responding to Repetitious or Redundant Requests

(a) A governmental body that determines that a requestor has made a request for information for which the governmental body has previously furnished copies to the requestor or made copies available to the requestor on payment of applicable charges under Subchapter F, shall respond to the request, in relation to the information for which copies have been already furnished or made available, in accordance with this section, except that:

    (1) this section does not prohibit the governmental body from furnishing the information or making the information available to the requestor again in accordance with the request; and

    (2) the governmental body is not required to comply with this section in relation to information that the governmental body simply furnishes or makes available to the requestor again in accordance with the request.

(b) The governmental body shall certify to the requestor that copies of all or part of the requested information, as applicable, were previously furnished to the requestor or made available to the requestor on payment of applicable charges under Subchapter F. The certification must include:

    (1) a description of the information for which copies have been previously furnished or made available to the requestor;

    (2) the date that the governmental body received the requestor's original request for that information;

    (3) the date that the governmental body previously furnished copies of or made available copies of the information to the requestor;

    (4) a certification that no subsequent additions, deletions, or corrections have been made to that information; and

    (5) the name, title, and signature of the officer for public information or the officer's agent making the certification.

(c) A charge may not be imposed for making and furnishing a certification required under Subsection (b).

(d) This section does not apply to information for which the governmental body has not previously furnished copies to the requestor or made copies available to the requestor on payment of applicable charges under Subchapter F. A request by the requestor for information for which copies have not previously been furnished or made available to the requestor, including information for which copies were not furnished or made available because the information was redacted from other information that was furnished or made available or because the information did not yet exist at the time of an earlier request, shall be treated in the same manner as any other request for information under this chapter.

 

Subchapter F. Charges for Providing Copies of Public Information

§ 552.261. Charges for Providing Copies of Public Information

(a) The charge for providing a copy of public information shall be an amount that reasonably includes all costs related to reproducing the public information, including costs of materials, labor, and overhead. If a request is for 50 or fewer pages of paper records, the charge for providing the copy of the public information may not include costs of materials, labor, or overhead, but shall be limited to the photocopying costs, unless the pages to be photocopied are located in:

    (1) two or more separate buildings that are not physically connected with each other; or

    (2) a remote storage facility.

(b) If the charge for providing a copy of public information includes costs of labor, the requestor may require the governmental body's officer for public information or the officer's agent to provide the requestor with a written statement as to the amount of time that was required to produce and provide the copy. The statement must be signed by the officer for public information or the officer's agent and the officer's or the agent's name must be typed or legibly printed below the signature. A charge may not be imposed for providing the written statement to the requestor.

(c) For purposes of Subsection (a), a connection of two buildings by a covered or open sidewalk, an elevated or underground passageway, or a similar facility is insufficient to cause the buildings to be considered separate buildings.

(d) Charges for providing a copy of public information are considered to accrue at the time the governmental body advises the requestor that the copy is available on payment of the applicable charges.

 

§ 552.2615. Required Itemized Estimate of Charges

(a) If a request for a copy of public information will result in the imposition of a charge under this subchapter that exceeds $40, or a request to inspect a paper record will result in the imposition of a charge under Section 552.271 that exceeds $40, the governmental body shall provide the requestor with a written itemized statement that details all estimated charges that will be imposed, including any allowable charges for labor or personnel costs. If an alternative less costly method of viewing the records is available, the statement must include a notice that the requestor may contact the governmental body regarding the alternative method. The governmental body must inform the requestor of the duties imposed on the requestor by this section and give the requestor the information needed to respond, including:

    (1) that the requestor must provide the governmental body with a mailing, facsimile transmission, or electronic mail address to receive the itemized statement and that it is the requestor's choice which type of address to provide;

    (2) that the request is considered automatically withdrawn if the requestor does not respond in writing to the itemized statement and any updated itemized statement in the time and manner required by this section; and

    (3) that the requestor may respond to the statement by delivering the written response to the governmental body by mail, in person, by facsimile transmission if the governmental body is capable of receiving documents transmitted in that manner, or by electronic mail if the governmental body has an electronic mail address.

(b) A request described by Subsection (a) is considered to have been withdrawn by the requestor if the requestor does not respond in writing to the itemized statement by informing the governmental body within 10 days after the date the statement is sent to the requestor that:

    (1) the requestor will accept the estimated charges; or

    (2) the requestor is modifying the request in response to the itemized statement.

(c) If the governmental body later determines, but before it makes the copy or the paper record available, that the estimated charges will exceed the charges detailed in the written itemized statement by 20 percent or more, the governmental body shall send to the requestor a written updated itemized statement that details all estimated charges that will be imposed, including any allowable charges for labor or personnel costs. If the requestor does not respond in writing to the updated estimate in the time and manner described by Subsection (b), the request is considered to have been withdrawn by the requestor.

(d) If the actual charges that a governmental body imposes for a copy of public information, or for inspecting a paper record under Section 552.271, exceeds $40, the charges may not exceed:

    (1) the amount estimated in the updated itemized statement; or

    (2) if an updated itemized statement is not sent to the requestor, an amount that exceeds by 20 percent or more the amount estimated in the itemized statement.

(e) An itemized statement or updated itemized statement is considered to have been sent by the governmental body to the requestor on the date that:

    (1) the statement is delivered to the requestor in person;

    (2) the governmental body deposits the properly addressed statement in the United States mail; or

    (3) the governmental body transmits the properly addressed statement by electronic mail or facsimile transmission, if the requestor agrees to receive the statement by electronic mail or facsimile transmission, as applicable.

(f) A requestor is considered to have responded to the itemized statement or the updated itemized statement on the date that:

    (1) the response is delivered to the governmental body in person;

    (2) the requestor deposits the properly addressed response in the United States mail; or

    (3) the requestor transmits the properly addressed response to the governmental body by electronic mail or facsimile transmission.

(g) The time deadlines imposed by this section do not affect the application of a time deadline imposed on a governmental body under Subchapter G.

 

§ 552.262. Rules of the General Services Commission

(a) The General Services Commission shall adopt rules for use by each governmental body in determining charges for providing copies of public information under this subchapter and in determining the charge, deposit, or bond required for making public information that exists in a paper record available for inspection as authorized by Sections 552.271(c) and (d). The rules adopted by the General Services Commission shall be used by each governmental body in determining charges for providing copies of public information and in determining the charge, deposit, or bond required for making public information that exists in a paper record available for inspection, except to the extent that other law provides for charges for specific kinds of public information. The charges for providing copies of public information may not be excessive and may not exceed the actual cost of producing the information or for making public information that exists in a paper record available. A governmental body, other than an agency of state government, may determine its own charges for providing copies of public information and its own charge, deposit, or bond for making public information that exists in a paper record available for inspection but may not charge an amount that is greater than 25 percent more than the amount established by the General Services Commission unless the governmental body requests an exemption under Subsection (c).

(b) The rules of the General Services Commission shall prescribe the methods for computing the charges for providing copies of public information in paper, electronic, and other kinds of media and the charge, deposit, or bond required for making public information that exists in a paper record available for inspection. The rules shall establish costs for various components of charges for providing copies of public information that shall be used by each governmental body in providing copies of public information or making public information that exists in a paper record available for inspection.

(c) A governmental body may request that it be exempt from part or all of the rules adopted by the General Services Commission for determining charges for providing copies of public information or the charge, deposit, or bond required for making public information that exists in a paper record available for inspection. The request must be made in writing to the General Services Commission and must state the reason for the exemption. If the General Services Commission determines that good cause exists for exempting a governmental body from a part or all of the rules, the commission shall give written notice of the determination to the governmental body within 90 days of the request. On receipt of the determination, the governmental body may amend its charges for providing copies of public information or its charge, deposit, or bond required for making public information that exists in a paper record available for inspection according to the determination of the General Services Commission.

(d) The General Services Commission shall publish annually in the Texas Register a list of the governmental bodies that have authorization from the General Services Commission to adopt any modified rules for determining the cost of providing copies of public information or making public information that exists in a paper record available for inspection.

(e) The rules of the General Services Commission do not apply to a state governmental body that is not a state agency for purposes of Subtitle D, Title 10.

 

§ 552.263. Bond for Payment of Costs or Cash Prepayment for Preparation of Copy of Public Information

(a) An officer for public information or the officer's agent may require a deposit or bond for payment of anticipated costs for the preparation of a copy of public information if the officer for public information or the officer's agent has provided the requestor with the required written itemized statement detailing the estimated charge for providing the copy and if the charge for providing the copy of the public information specifically requested by the requestor is estimated by the governmental body to exceed:

    (1) $100, if the governmental body has more than 15 full-time employees; or

    (2) $50, if the governmental body has fewer than 16 full-time employees.

(b) The officer for public information or the officer's agent may not require a deposit or bond be paid under Subsection (a) as a down payment for copies of public information that the requestor may request in the future.

(c) An officer for public information or the officer's agent may require a deposit or bond for payment of unpaid amounts owing to the governmental body in relation to previous requests that the requestor has made under this chapter before preparing a copy of public information in response to a new request if those unpaid amounts exceed $100. The officer for public information or the officer's agent may not seek payment of those unpaid amounts through any other means.

(d) The governmental body must fully document the existence and amount of those unpaid amounts or the amount of any anticipated costs, as applicable, before requiring a deposit or bond under this section. The documentation is subject to required public disclosure under this chapter.

(e) For purposes of Subchapter E, a request for a copy of public information is considered to have been received by a governmental body on the date the governmental body receives the deposit or bond for payment of anticipated costs or unpaid amounts if the governmental body's officer for public information or the officer's agent requires a deposit or bond in accordance with this section.

 

§ 552.264. Copy of Public Information Requested by Member of Legislature

One copy of public information that is requested from a state agency by a member, agency, or committee of the legislature under Section 552.008 shall be provided without charge.

 

§ 552.265. Charge for Certified Record Provided by District or County Clerk

The charge for providing a copy made by a district or county clerk's office shall be the charge provided by law.

 

§ 552.266. Charge for Copy of Public Information Provided by Municipal Court Clerk

The charge for providing a copy made by a municipal court clerk shall be the charge provided by municipal ordinance.

 

§ 552.267. Waiver or Reduction of Charge for Providing Copy of Public Information

(a) A governmental body shall provide a copy of public information without charge or at a reduced charge if the governmental body determines that waiver or reduction of the charge is in the public interest because providing the copy of the information primarily benefits the general public.

(b) If the cost to a governmental body of processing the collection of a charge for providing a copy of public information will exceed the amount of the charge, the governmental body may waive the charge.

 

§ 552.268. Efficient Use of Public Resources

A governmental body shall make reasonably efficient use of supplies and other resources to avoid excessive reproduction costs.

 

§ 552.269. Overcharge or Overpayment for Copy of Public Information

(a) A person who believes the person has been overcharged for being provided with a copy of public information may complain to the General Services Commission in writing of the alleged overcharge, setting forth the reasons why the person believes the charges are excessive. The General Services Commission shall review the complaint and make a determination in writing as to the appropriate charge for providing the copy of the requested information. The governmental body shall respond to the General Services Commission to any written questions asked of the governmental body by the commission regarding the charges for providing the copy of the public information. The response must be made to the General Services Commission within 10 days after the date the questions are received by the governmental body. If the General Services Commission determines that a governmental body has overcharged for providing the copy of requested public information, the governmental body shall promptly adjust its charges in accordance with the determination of the General Services Commission.

(b) A person who overpays for a copy of public information because a governmental body refuses or fails to follow the rules for charges adopted by the General Services Commission is entitled to recover three times the amount of the overcharge if the governmental body did not act in good faith in computing the costs.

 

§ 552.270 Charge for Government Publication

(a) This subchapter does not apply to a publication that is compiled and printed by or for a governmental body for public dissemination. If the cost of the publication is not determined by state law, a governmental body may determine the charge for providing the publication.

(b) This section does not prohibit a governmental body from providing a publication free of charge if state law does not require that a certain charge be made.

 

§ 552.271. Inspection of Public Information in Paper Record if Copy Not Requested

(a) If the requestor does not request a copy of public information, a charge may not be imposed for making available for inspection any public information that exists in a paper record, except as provided by this section.

(b) If a requested page contains confidential information that must be edited from the record before the information can be made available for inspection, the governmental body may charge for the cost of making a photocopy of the page from which confidential information must be edited. No charge other than the cost of the photocopy may be imposed under this subsection.

(c) Except as provided by Subsection (d), an officer for public information or the officer's agent may require a requestor to pay, or to make a deposit or post a bond for the payment of, anticipated personnel costs for making available for inspection public information that exists in paper records only if:

    (1) the public information specifically requested by the requestor:
      (A) is older than five years; or

      (B) completely fills, or when assembled will completely fill, six or more archival boxes; and

    (2) the officer for public information or the officer's agent estimates that more than five hours will be required to make the public information available for inspection.

(d) If the governmental body has fewer than 16 full-time employees, the payment, the deposit, or the bond authorized by Subsection (c) may be required only if:

    (1) the public information specifically requested by the requestor:
      (A) is older than three years; or

      (B) completely fills, or when assembled will completely fill, three or more archival boxes; and

    (2) the officer for public information or the officer's agent estimates that more than two hours will be required to make the public information available for inspection.

 

§ 552.272. Inspection of Electronic Record If Copy Not Requested

(a) In response to a request to inspect information that exists in an electronic medium and that is not available directly on-line to the requestor, a charge may not be imposed for access to the information, unless complying with the request will require programming or manipulation of data. If programming or manipulation of data is required, the governmental body shall notify the requestor before assembling the information and provide the requestor with an estimate of charges that will be imposed to make the information available. A charge under this section must be assessed in accordance with this subchapter.

(b) If public information exists in an electronic form on a computer owned or leased by a governmental body and if the public has direct access to that computer through a computer network or other means, the electronic form of the information may be electronically copied from that computer without charge if accessing the information does not require processing, programming, or manipulation on the government-owned or government-leased computer before the information is copied.

(c) If public information exists in an electronic form on a computer owned or leased by a governmental body and if the public has direct access to that computer through a computer network or other means and the information requires processing, programming, or manipulation before it can be electronically copied, a governmental body may impose charges in accordance with this subchapter.

(d) If information is created or kept in an electronic form, a governmental body is encouraged to explore options to separate out confidential information and to make public information available to the public through electronic access through a computer network or by other means.

(e) The provisions of this section that prohibit a governmental entity from imposing a charge for access to information that exists in an electronic medium do not apply to the collection of a fee set by the supreme court after consultation with the Judicial Committee on Information Technology as authorized by Section 77.031 for the use of a computerized electronic judicial information system.

 

§ 552.274. Report by State Agency on Cost of Copies

(a) Not later than December 1 of each odd-numbered year, each state agency shall provide the General Services Commission detailed information, for use by the commission in preparing the report required by Sections 2(c) and (d), Chapter 428, Acts of the 73rd Legislature, Regular Session, 1993, describing the agency's procedures for charging and collecting fees for providing copies of public information.

(b) In this section, "state agency" has the meaning assigned by Sections 2151.002(2)(A) and (C).

 

Subchapter G. Attorney General Decisions

§ 552.301. Request for Attorney General Decision

(a) A governmental body that receives a written request for information that it wishes to withhold from public disclosure and that it considers to be within one of the exceptions under Subchapter C must ask for a decision from the attorney general about whether the information is within that exception if there has not been a previous determination about whether the information falls within one of the exceptions.

(b) The governmental body must ask for the attorney general's decision and state the exceptions that apply within a reasonable time but not later than the 10th business day after the date of receiving the written request.

(c) For purposes of this subchapter, a written request includes a request made in writing that is sent to the officer for public information, or the person designated by that officer, by electronic mail or facsimile transmission.

(d) A governmental body that requests an attorney general decision under Subsection (a) must provide to the requestor within a reasonable time but not later than the 10th business day after the date of receiving the requestor's written request:

    (1) a written statement that the governmental body wishes to withhold the requested information and has asked for a decision from the attorney general about whether the information is within an exception to public disclosure; and

    (2) a copy of the governmental body's written communication to the attorney general asking for the decision or, if the governmental body's written communication to the attorney general discloses the requested information, a redacted copy of that written communication.

(e) A governmental body that requests an attorney general decision under Subsection (a) must within a reasonable time but not later than the 15th business day after the date of receiving the written request:

    (1) submit to the attorney general:
      (A) written comments stating the reasons why the stated exceptions apply that would allow the information to be withheld;

      (B) a copy of the written request for information;

      (C) a signed statement as to the date on which the written request for information was received by the governmental body or evidence sufficient to establish that date; and

      (D) a copy of the specific information requested, or submit representative samples of the information if a voluminous amount of information was requested; and

    (2) label that copy of the specific information, or of the representative samples, to indicate which exceptions apply to which parts of the copy.

(f) A governmental body must release the requested information and is prohibited from asking for a decision from the attorney general about whether information requested under this chapter is within an exception under Subchapter C if:

    (1) the governmental body has previously requested and received a determination from the attorney general concerning the precise information at issue in a pending request; and

    (2) the attorney general or a court determined that the information is public information under this chapter that is not excepted by Subchapter C.

 

§ 552.302. Failure to Make Timely Request for Attorney General Decision; Presumption That Information Is Public

If a governmental body does not request an attorney general decision as provided by Section 552.301 and provide the requestor with the information required by Section 552.301(d), the information requested in writing is presumed to be subject to required public disclosure and must be released unless there is a compelling reason to withhold the information.

 

§ 552.303. Delivery of Requested Information to Attorney General; Disclosure of Requested Information; Attorney General Request for Submission of Additional Information

(a) A governmental body that requests an attorney general decision under this subchapter shall supply to the attorney general, in accordance with Section 552.301, the specific information requested. Unless the information requested is confidential by law, the governmental body may disclose the requested information to the public or to the requestor before the attorney general makes a final determination that the requested information is public or, if suit is filed under this chapter, before a final determination that the requested information is public has been made by the court with jurisdiction over the suit, except as otherwise provided by Section 552.322.

(b) The attorney general may determine whether a governmental body's submission of information to the attorney general under Section 552.301 is sufficient to render a decision.

(c) If the attorney general determines that information in addition to that required by Section 552.301 is necessary to render a decision, the attorney general shall give written notice of that fact to the governmental body and the requestor.

(d) A governmental body notified under Subsection (c) shall submit the necessary additional information to the attorney general not later than the seventh calendar day after the date the notice is received.

(e) If a governmental body does not comply with Subsection (d), the information that is the subject of a person's request to the governmental body and regarding which the governmental body fails to comply with Subsection (d) is presumed to be subject to required public disclosure and must be released unless there exists a compelling reason to withhold the information.

 

§ 552.3035. Disclosure of Requested Information by Attorney General

The attorney general may not disclose to the requestor or the public any information submitted to the attorney general under Section 552.301(e)(1)(D).

 

§ 552.304. Submission of Public Comments

A person may submit written comments stating reasons why the information at issue in a request for an attorney general decision should or should not be released.

 

§ 552.305. Information Involving Privacy or Property Interests of Third Party

(a) In a case in which information is requested under this chapter and a person's privacy or property interests may be involved, including a case under Section 552.101, 552.104, 552.110, or 552.114, a governmental body may decline to release the information for the purpose of requesting an attorney general decision.

(b) A person whose interests may be involved under Subsection (a), or any other person, may submit in writing to the attorney general the person's reasons why the information should be withheld or released.

(c) The governmental body may, but is not required to, submit its reasons why the information should be withheld or released.

(d) If release of a person's proprietary information may be subject to exception under Section 552.101, 552.110, 552.113, or 552.131, the governmental body that requests an attorney general decision under Section 552.301 shall make a good faith attempt to notify that person of the request for the attorney general decision. Notice under this subsection must:

    (1) be in writing and sent within a reasonable time not later than the 10th business day after the date the governmental body receives the request for the information; and

    (2) include:

      (A) a copy of the written request for the information, if any, received by the governmental body; and

      (B) a statement, in the form prescribed by the attorney general, that the person is entitled to submit in writing to the attorney general within a reasonable time not later than the 10th business day after the date the person receives the notice:

        (i) each reason the person has as to why the information should be withheld; and

        (ii) a letter, memorandum, or brief in support of that reason.

(e) A person who submits a letter, memorandum, or brief to the attorney general under Subsection (d) shall send a copy of that letter, memorandum, or brief to the person who requested the information from the governmental body. If the letter, memorandum, or brief submitted to the attorney general contains the substance of the information requested, the copy of the letter, memorandum, or brief may be a redacted copy.

 

§ 552.306. Rendition of Attorney General Decision; Issuance of Written Opinion

(a) Except as provided by Section 552.011, the attorney general shall promptly render a decision requested under this subchapter, consistent with the standards of due process, determining whether the requested information is within one of the exceptions of Subchapter C. The attorney general shall render the decision not later than the 45th working day after the date the attorney general received the request for a decision. If the attorney general is unable to issue the decision within the 45-day period, the attorney general may extend the period for issuing the decision by an additional 10 working days by informing the governmental body and the requestor, during the original 45-day period, of the reason for the delay.

(b) The attorney general shall issue a written opinion of the determination and shall provide a copy of the opinion to the requestor.

 

§ 552.307. Special Right of Access; Attorney General Decisions

(a) If a governmental body determines that information subject to a special right of access under Section 552.023 is exempt from disclosure under an exception of Subsection C, other than an exception intended to protect the privacy interest of the requestor or the person whom the requestor is authorized to represent, the governmental body shall, before disclosing the information, submit a written request for a decision to the attorney general under the procedures of this subchapter.

(b) If a decision is not requested under Subsection (a), the governmental body shall release the information to the person with a special right of access under Section 552.023 not later than the 10th day after the date of receiving the request for information.

 

§ 552.308. Timeliness of Action by United States or Interagency mail

(a) When this subchapter requires a request, notice, or other document to be submitted or otherwise given to a person within a specified period, the requirement is met in a timely fashion if the document is sent to the person by first class United States mail properly addressed with postage prepaid and:

    (1) it bears a post office cancellation mark indicating a time within that period; or

    (2) the person required to submit or otherwise give the document furnishes satisfactory proof that it was deposited in the mail within that period.

(b) When this subchapter requires an agency of this state to submit or otherwise give to the attorney general within a specified period a request, notice, or other writing, the requirement is met in a timely fashion if:

    (1) the request, notice, or other writing is sent to the attorney general by interagency mail; and

    (2) the agency provides evidence sufficient to establish that the request, notice, or other writing was deposited in the interagency mail within that period.

 

Subchapter H. Civil Enforcement

§ 552.321. Suit for Writ of Mandamus

(a) A requestor or the attorney general may file suit for a writ of mandamus compelling a governmental body to make information available for public inspection if the governmental body refuses to request an attorney general's decision as provided by Subchapter G or refuses to supply public information or information that the attorney general has determined is public information that is not excepted from disclosure under Subchapter C.

(b) A suit filed by a requestor under this section must be filed in a district court for the county in which the main offices of the governmental body are located. A suit filed by the attorney general under this section must be filed in a district court of Travis County, except that a suit against a municipality with a population of 100,000 or less must be filed in a district court for the county in which the main offices of the municipality are located.

 

§ 552.3215. Declaratory Judgment or Injunctive Relief

(a) In this section:

    (1) "Complainant" means a person who claims to be the victim of a violation of this chapter.

    (2) "State agency" means a board, commission, department, office, or other agency that:

      (A) is in the executive branch of state government;

      (B) was created by the constitution or a statute of this state; and

      (C) has statewide jurisdiction.

(b) An action for a declaratory judgment or injunctive relief may be brought in accordance with this section against a governmental body that violates this chapter.

(c) The district or county attorney for the county in which a governmental body other than a state agency is located or the attorney general may bring the action in the name of the state only in a district court for that county. If the governmental body extends into more than one county, the action may be brought only in the county in which the administrative offices of the governmental body are located.

(d) If the governmental body is a state agency, the Travis County district attorney or the attorney general may bring the action in the name of the state only in a district court of Travis County.

(e) A complainant may file a complaint alleging a violation of this chapter. The complaint must be filed with the district or county attorney of the county in which the governmental body is located unless the governmental body is the district or county attorney. If the governmental body extends into more than one county, the complaint must be filed with the district or county attorney of the county in which the administrative offices of the governmental body are located. If the governmental body is a state agency, the complaint may be filed with the Travis County district attorney. If the governmental body is the district or county attorney, the complaint must be filed with the attorney general. To be valid, a complaint must:

    (1) be in writing and signed by the complainant;

    (2) state the name of the governmental body that allegedly committed the violation, as accurately as can be done by the complainant;

    (3) state the time and place of the alleged commission of the violation, as definitely as can be done by the complainant; and

    (4) in general terms, describe the violation.

(f) A district or county attorney with whom the complaint is filed shall indicate on the face of the written complaint the date the complaint is filed.

(g) Before the 31st day after the date a complaint is filed under Subsection (e), the district or county attorney shall:

    (1) determine whether:
      (A) the violation alleged in the complaint was committed; and

      (B) an action will be brought against the governmental body under this section; and

    (2) notify the complainant in writing of those determinations.

(h) Notwithstanding Subsection (g)(1), if the district or county attorney believes that official has a conflict of interest that would preclude that official from bringing an action under this section against the governmental body complained of, before the 31st day after the date the complaint was filed the county or district attorney shall inform the complainant of that official's belief and of the complainant's right to file the complaint with the attorney general. If the district or county attorney determines not to bring an action under this section, the district or county attorney shall:

    (1) include a statement of the basis for that determination; and

    (2) return the complaint to the complainant.

(i) If the district or county attorney determines not to bring an action under this section, the complainant is entitled to file the complaint with the attorney general before the 31st day after the date the complaint is returned to the complainant. On receipt of the written complaint, the attorney general shall comply with each requirement in Subsections (g) and (h) in the time required by those subsections. If the attorney general decides to bring an action under this section against a governmental body located only in one county in response to the complaint, the attorney general must comply with Subsection (c).

(j) An action may be brought under this section only if the official proposing to bring the action notifies the governmental body in writing of the official's determination that the alleged violation was committed and the governmental body does not cure the violation before the fourth day after the date the governmental body receives the notice.

(k) An action authorized by this section is in addition to any other civil, administrative, or criminal action provided by this chapter or another law.

 

§ 552.322. Discovery of Information Under Protective Order Pending Final Determination

In a suit filed under this chapter, the court may order that the information at issue may be discovered only under a protective order until a final determination is made.

 

§ 552.323. Assessment of Costs of Litigation and Reasonable Attorney Fees

(a) In an action brought under Section 552.321 or 552.3215, the court shall assess costs of litigation and reasonable attorney fees incurred by a plaintiff who substantially prevails, except that the court may not assess those costs and fees against a governmental body if the court finds that the governmental body acted in reasonable reliance on:

    (1) a judgment or an order of a court applicable to the governmental body;

    (2) the published opinion of an appellate court; or

    (3) a written decision of the attorney general, including a decision issued under Subchapter G or an opinion issued under Section 402.042.

(b) In an action brought under Section 552.353(b)(3), the court may assess costs of litigation and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by a plaintiff or defendant who substantially prevails. In exercising its discretion under this subsection, the court shall consider whether the conduct of the officer for public information of the governmental body had a reasonable basis in law and whether the litigation was brought in good faith.

 

§ 552.324. Suit by Governmental Body

(a) The only suit a governmental body or officer for public information may file seeking to withhold information from a requestor is a suit that is filed in accordance with Sections 552.325 and 552.353 and that challenges a decision by the attorney general issued under Subchapter G.

(b) The governmental body must bring the suit not later than the 30th calendar day after the date the governmental body receives the decision of the attorney general being challenged. If the governmental body does not bring suit within that period, the governmental body shall comply with the decision of the attorney general. This subsection does not affect the earlier deadline for purposes of Section 552.353(b)(3) for a suit brought by an officer for public information.

 

§ 552.325. Parties to Suit Seeking to Withhold Information

(a) A governmental body, officer for public information, or other person or entity that files a suit seeking to withhold information from a requestor may not file suit against the person requesting the information. The requestor is entitled to intervene in the suit.

(b) The governmental body, officer for public information, or other person or entity that files the suit shall demonstrate to the court that the governmental body, officer for public information, or other person or entity made a timely good faith effort to inform the requestor, by certified mail or by another written method of notice that requires the return of a receipt, of:

    (1) the existence of the suit, including the subject matter and cause number of the suit and the court in which the suit is filed;

    (2) the requestor's right to intervene in the suit or to choose to not participate in the suit;

    (3) the fact that the suit is against the attorney general; and

    (4) the address and phone number of the office of the attorney general.

(c) If the attorney general enters into a proposed settlement that all or part of the information that is the subject of the suit should be withheld, the attorney general shall notify the requestor of that decision and, if the requestor has not intervened in the suit, of the requestor's right to intervene to contest the withholding. The attorney general shall notify the requestor:

    (1) in the manner required by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, if the requestor has intervened in the suit; or

    (2) by certified mail or by another written method of notice that requires the return of a receipt, if the requestor has not intervened in the suit.

(d) The court shall allow the requestor a reasonable period to intervene after the attorney general attempts to give notice under Subsection (c)(2).

 

§ 552.326. Failure to Raise Exceptions Before Attorney General

(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), the only exceptions to required disclosure within Subchapter C that a governmental body may raise in a suit filed under this chapter are exceptions that the governmental body properly raised before the attorney general in connection with its request for a decision regarding the matter under Subchapter G.

(b) Subsection (a) does not prohibit a governmental body from raising an exception:

    (1) based on a requirement of federal law; or

    (2) involving the property or privacy interests of another person.

 

Subchapter I. Criminal Violations

§ 552.351. Destruction, Removal, or Alteration of Public Information

(a) A person commits an offense if the person willfully destroys, mutilates, removes without permission as provided by this chapter, or alters public information.

(b) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by:

    (1) a fine of not less than $25 or more than $4,000;

    (2) confinement in the county jail for not less than three days or more than three months; or

    (3) both the fine and confinement.

§ 552.352. Distribution of Confidential Information

(a) A person commits an offense if the person distributes information considered confidential under the terms of this chapter.

(b) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by:

    (1) a fine of not more than $1,000;

    (2) confinement in the county jail for not more than six months; or

    (3) both the fine and confinement.

(c) A violation under this section constitutes official misconduct.

§ 552.353. Failure or Refusal of Officer for Public Information to Provide Access to or Copying of Public Information

(a) An officer for public information, or the officer's agent, commits an offense if, with criminal negligence, the officer or the officer's agent fails or refuses to give access to, or to permit or provide copying of, public information to a requestor as provided by this chapter.

(b) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (a) that the officer for public information reasonably believed that public access to the requested information was not required and that the officer:

    (1) acted in reasonable reliance on a court order or a written interpretation of this chapter contained in an opinion of a court of record or of the attorney general issued under Subchapter G;

    (2) requested a decision from the attorney general in accordance with Subchapter G, and the decision is pending; or

    (3) not later than the 10th calendar day after the date of receipt of a decision by the attorney general that the information is public, filed a petition for a declaratory judgment, a writ of mandamus, or both, against the attorney general in a Travis County district court seeking relief from compliance with the decision of the attorney general, and a petition is pending.

(c) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (a) that a person or entity has, not later than the 10th calendar day after the date of receipt by a governmental body of a decision by the attorney general that the information is public, filed a cause of action seeking relief from compliance with the decision of the attorney general, and the cause is pending.

(d) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (a) that the defendant is the agent of an officer for public information and that the agent reasonably relied on the written instruction of the officer for public information not to disclose the public information requested.

(e) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by:

    (1) a fine of not more than $1,000;

    (2) confinement in the county jail for not more than six months; or

    (3) both the fine and confinement.

(f) A violation under this section constitutes official misconduct.