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Texas Governor Allows Temporary Suspension of Certain Open Meeting Statutes

On March 16, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott granted the Office of the Attorney General’s request for a temporary suspension of certain open meeting statutes. This temporary suspension allows for telephonic or videoconference meetings of governmental bodies that are accessible to the public. 

The following open meeting statutes are temporarily suspended:

  • those that require a quorum or a presiding officer to be physically present at the specified location of the meeting; provided, however, that a quorum is present in the telephonic or videoconference meeting;

  • those that require physical posting of a notice; provided, however, that the online notice must include a toll-free dial-in number or a free-of-charge videoconference link, along with an electronic copy of any agenda packet;

  • those that require the telephonic or videoconference meeting to be audible to members of the public who are physically present at the specified location of the meeting; provided, however, that (i) the dial-in number or videoconference link provided in the notice must make the meeting audible to members of the public and allow for their two-way communication and (ii) a recording of the meeting must be made available to the public; and  

  • those that may be interpreted to require face-to-face interaction between members of the public and public officials; provided, however, that governmental bodies must offer alternative methods of communicating with their public officials.

These suspensions are in effect until terminated by the Office of the Governor, or until the March 13, 2020 disaster declaration is lifted or expires.  For more information, please see the Office of the Governor’s press release here.  For additional details about the statutes affected, please see the Office of the Attorney General’s press release here

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About this Author

Senior Counsel

Ed Fierro serves as bond counsel, disclosure counsel, underwriter’s counsel and purchaser’s counsel in a spectrum of public finance transactions. He also counsels municipal issuers, obligated persons and regulated entities on legal, regulatory and policy issues. Ed provides clients with a comprehensive understanding of the application of federal securities laws when analyzing regulatory, compliance and enforcement issues.

Previously, Ed served as senior counsel to the director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Office of Municipal Securities. In...

Jonathan K. Frels, Public Law Attorney, Bracewell Law Firm

Jonathan focuses his practice on public finance, public law and state legislative matters. He serves as bond counsel, underwriter’s counsel and disclosure counsel in public finance transactions for state agencies, cities, counties, school districts, navigation districts, port authorities, economic development corporations, water districts and water authorities. He also represents political subdivisions as general counsel with respect to public law issues. Further, Jonathan assists governmental bodies, nonprofit corporations and other entities with respect to Public Information Act issues and advises entities contracting with governmental bodies.

In addition to his experience in private practice, Jonathan served as Deputy Attorney General for Legal Counsel at the Texas Office of the Attorney General, 2008–2010. In this role, he acted as counsel to the Attorney General and supervised the Office of the Attorney General’s non-litigation civil legal divisions, including the agency’s Public Finance Division, Opinion Committee, General Counsel Division, and Open Records Division. While with the Office of the Attorney General, Jonathan frequently testified before and served as a resource to members and committees of the Texas Legislature on a variety of subjects, including public finance and open government matters.

Manuel Vera, Bracewell Law Firm, Mergers Acquisitions Attorney

Barron focuses on public finance, urban infrastructure and transportation development, state legislative matters, and public/private partnerships. He has experience with municipal finance and public law matters, including traditional municipal finance, tax increment finance, urban infrastructure and redevelopment, and structuring public/private joint ventures.

Barron serves as bond counsel for cities, counties, state agencies, and special districts, including local government corporations. In addition to bond counsel engagements, he serves as...