Q: If a city council plans to meet with a state senator, does the meeting require a public notice?
A: It depends on whether public business over which the city council has oversight and control will be deliberated.
Government Code Chapter 552, the Texas Open Meetings Act, requires that public notice of a meeting of a quorum of a governmental body be posted 72 hours in advance and apprise citizens of the time and site of the meeting place and the subject matter of each agenda item.
Now, if the meeting is strictly social in nature, meaning that no deliberation on public business will occur, it’s still helpful for the sake of transparency for city to post a public notice that informs the public about the purpose of the gathering.
For deeper reference, please find in the Texas Attorney General’s 2018 Texas Open Meetings Handbook under the title VI, Meetings. Find the header, “Gathering at Which a Quorum Receives Information from or Provides Information to a Third Party.”
Under that header, you will find text stating that the word meeting “does not include the gathering of a quorum of a governmental body at a social function unrelated to the public business that is conducted by the body, or the attendance by a quorum of a governmental body at a regional, state, or national convention or workshop, ceremonial event, press conference, or the attendance by a quorum of a governmental body at a candidate forum, appearance, or debate to inform the electorate, if formal action is not taken and any discussion of public business is incidental to the social function, convention, workshop, ceremonial event, press conference, forum, appearance, or debate.”
Q: What is the correct size and shape of a boil water notice?
A: Boil water public notices often appear in newspapers as classified-style, but some are published in a quarter-page or other display-style format.
The rule in Texas Administrative Code that requires publication of a boil water notice does not specify a size or shape for the notice. In Administrative Code please find under Texas Commission on Environmental Quality,Chapter 290, Public Drinking Water, Subchapter F, Drinking Water Standards Governing Drinking Water Quality and Reporting Requirements for Public Water Systems, and under that, Rule §290.122, titled Public Notification.
Q: With elections coming up, I received a paid advertisement that is political in nature. It looks like a long letter to the editor or an advertorial without graphics. The writer, who is a well-known person in the community, gives background on several issues that are current public business but says it all without endorsing or opposing anyone or anything that will be on the ballot. The issue for me is that the writer is against including a “Paid Political Advertising” disclosure on the ad. How can I handle this?
A: Ad copy that is for or against anything that is or will be on an upcoming election ballot merits the disclosure statement (AKA “disclaimer”) as described in the Texas Ethics Commission publication, “Political Advertising: What You Need to Know.”
Read more athttps://www.ethics.state.tx.us/guides/Gpolad.pdf
This is something to think about, not advice. You can get into a debate over this with the advertiser, but ultimately, you have the right to require the disclosure statement, even if you think the ad copy falls in some sort of gray area.
Q: We received an ad order from a local store and it includes cigarette and other tobacco product ads. What are the laws that regulate tobacco advertising?
A: Tobacco sales and advertising are federally regulated.
Here is a link to the FDA information on tobacco advertising. In it you will find answers to often-asked questions:
Also, Texas has laws that further the intent of the federal regulations. See Health and Safety Code Chapter 161, Public Health Provisions, Subchapter H, Distribution of Cigarettes, e-Cigarettes, or Tobacco Products, at this link: https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/HS/htm/HS.161.htm.