House Bill (HB) 3033 of the 88th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature impacts governmental entities’ response to public information requests.
Two important provisions members need to be aware of include the definition of “business day” and clarification of the timeline to respond to a requestor once an attorney general (AG) opinion is received.
Complying with the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) requires adherence to timelines that reference “business day,” but no formal meaning had ever been established. The law now formally defines the meaning by clarifying business days do not include the following:
- Weekends — Saturday or Sunday
- National holidays (i.e., New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day)
- State holidays (i.e., Confederate Heroes Day, Texas Independence Day, San Jacinto Day, Texas Emancipation Day, Lyndon Baines Johnson Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the 24th and 26th of December)
- Optional holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, or Good Friday if the public information officer of the governmental body observes the holiday
- Friday or Monday before or after a national or state holiday if the holiday falls on the weekend and the governmental body observes the holiday on that Friday or Monday
- Up to an additional 10 designated nonbusiness days per calendar year on which administrative offices are closed or operating with minimum staffing
The designation of nonbusiness days for a school district must be made by the board of trustees. For other governmental bodies the designation must be made by the executive director or other chief administrative officer. Caution should be taken when approving nonbusiness days since a school year does not align with a calendar year.
If a governmental entity requests an attorney general decision to determine whether requested information may or must be withheld, the entity must take the following steps within a reasonable time once an AG’s opinion is issued:
- Notify the requestor of the information to be released or to be withheld in accordance with the AG’s decision.
- Provide to the requestor a cost estimate for the release of information.
- Produce the information to be released.
- Notify the requestor if the AG’s decision is being legally contested.
HB 3033 clarifies reasonable time as not later than the 30th day after the AG decision is released.
Review Access and Records in the HR Library (member login required) to learn more about the TPIA, public information requests, and access to records. Additional information can be found in the TASB School Law eSource.
Karen Dooley joined HR Services in 2016. She provides oversight to a team of consultants providing staffing services, HR reviews, and other projects. She provides training and assists school districts with their HR-related needs. Dooley is a seasoned administrator with more than 17 years of HR experience in Central Texas districts as a coordinator, director, and assistant superintendent. She also worked as an assistant principal, counselor, and teacher, and holds a superintendent certificate.
Dooley received her master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University and her bachelor’s degree from Texas State University.
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