LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE


TITLE 5. MATTERS AFFECTING PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES


SUBTITLE C. MATTERS AFFECTING PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF MORE THAN ONE TYPE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT


CHAPTER 176. DISCLOSURE OF CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICERS; PROVIDING PUBLIC ACCESS TO CERTAIN INFORMATION


Sec. 176.001. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:

(1) "Agent" means a third party who undertakes to transact some business or manage some affair for another person by the authority or on account of the other person.

(1-a) "Business relationship" means a connection between two or more parties based on commercial activity of one of the parties. The term does not include a connection based on:

(A) a transaction that is subject to rate or fee regulation by a federal, state, or local governmental entity or an agency of a federal, state, or local governmental entity;

(B) a transaction conducted at a price and subject to terms available to the public; or

(C) a purchase or lease of goods or services from a person that is chartered by a state or federal agency and that is subject to regular examination by, and reporting to, that agency.

(1-b) "Charter school" means an open-enrollment charter school operating under Subchapter D, Chapter 12, Education Code.

(1-c) "Commission" means the Texas Ethics Commission.

(1-d) "Contract" means a written agreement for the sale or purchase of real property, goods, or services.

(2) "Family member" means a person related to another person within the first degree by consanguinity or affinity, as described by Subchapter B, Chapter 573, Government Code, except that the term does not include a person who is considered to be related to another person by affinity only as described by Section 573.024(b), Government Code.

(2-a) "Goods" means personal property.

(2-b) "Investment income" means dividends, capital gains, or interest income generated from:

(A) a personal or business:

(i) checking or savings account;

(ii) share draft or share account; or

(iii) other similar account;

(B) a personal or business investment; or

(C) a personal or business loan.

(3) "Local governmental entity" means a county, municipality, school district, charter school, junior college district, or other political subdivision of this state or a local government corporation, board, commission, district, or authority to which a member is appointed by the commissioners court of a county, the mayor of a municipality, or the governing body of a municipality. The term does not include an association, corporation, or organization of governmental entities organized to provide to its members education, assistance, products, or services or to represent its members before the legislative, administrative, or judicial branches of the state or federal government.

(4) "Local government officer" means:

(A) a member of the governing body of a local governmental entity;

(B) a director, superintendent, administrator, president, or other person designated as the executive officer of the local governmental entity; or

(C) an employee of a local governmental entity with respect to whom the local governmental entity has, in accordance with Section 176.005, extended the requirements of Sections 176.003 and 176.004.

(5) "Records administrator" means the director, county clerk, municipal secretary, superintendent, or other person responsible for maintaining the records of the local governmental entity or another person designated by the local governmental entity to maintain statements and questionnaires filed under this chapter and perform related functions.

(6) "Services" means skilled or unskilled labor or professional services, as defined by Section 2254.002, Government Code.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1014 (H.B. 914), Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 2005.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 226 (H.B. 1491), Sec. 1, eff. May 25, 2007.

Sec. 176.002. APPLICABILITY TO CERTAIN VENDORS AND OTHER PERSONS. (a) This chapter applies to a person who:

(1) enters or seeks to enter into a contract with a local governmental entity; or

(2) is an agent of a person described by Subdivision (1) in the person's business with a local governmental entity.

(b) A person is not subject to the disclosure requirements of this chapter if the person is:

(1) a state, a political subdivision of a state, the federal government, or a foreign government; or

(2) an employee of an entity described by Subdivision (1), acting in the employee's official capacity.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1014 (H.B. 914), Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 2005.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 226 (H.B. 1491), Sec. 2, eff. May 25, 2007.

Sec. 176.003. CONFLICTS DISCLOSURE STATEMENT REQUIRED. (a) A local government officer shall file a conflicts disclosure statement with respect to a person described by Section 176.002(a) if:

(1) the person enters into a contract with the local governmental entity or the local governmental entity is considering entering into a contract with the person; and

(2) the person:

(A) has an employment or other business relationship with the local government officer or a family member of the officer that results in the officer or family member receiving taxable income, other than investment income, that exceeds $2,500 during the 12-month period preceding the date that the officer becomes aware that:

(i) a contract described by Subdivision (1) has been executed; or

(ii) the local governmental entity is considering entering into a contract with the person; or

(B) has given to the local government officer or a family member of the officer one or more gifts that have an aggregate value of more than $250 in the 12-month period preceding the date the officer becomes aware that:

(i) a contract described by Subdivision (1) has been executed; or

(ii) the local governmental entity is considering entering into a contract with the person.

(a-1) A local government officer is not required to file a conflicts disclosure statement in relation to a gift accepted by the officer or a family member of the officer if the gift is:

(1) given by a family member of the person accepting the gift;

(2) a political contribution as defined by Title 15, Election Code; or

(3) food, lodging, transportation, or entertainment accepted as a guest.

(b) A local government officer shall file the conflicts disclosure statement with the records administrator of the local governmental entity not later than 5 p.m. on the seventh business day after the date on which the officer becomes aware of the facts that require the filing of the statement under Subsection (a).

(c) A local government officer commits an offense if the officer knowingly violates this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.

(d) It is an exception to the application of Subsection (c) that the person filed the required conflicts disclosure statement not later than the seventh business day after the date the person received notice from the local governmental entity of the alleged violation.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1014 (H.B. 914), Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 2005.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 226 (H.B. 1491), Sec. 3, eff. May 25, 2007.

Sec. 176.004. CONTENTS OF DISCLOSURE STATEMENT. The commission shall adopt the conflicts disclosure statement for local government officers. The conflicts disclosure statement must include:

(1) a requirement that each local government officer disclose:

(A) an employment or other business relationship described by Section 176.003(a), including the nature and extent of the relationship; and

(B) gifts accepted by the local government officer and any family member of the officer from a person described by Section 176.002(a) during the 12-month period described by Section 176.003(a)(2)(B) if the aggregate value of the gifts, excluding gifts described by Section 176.003(a-1), accepted by the officer or a family member from that person exceed $250;

(2) an acknowledgment from the local government officer that:

(A) the disclosure applies to each family member of the officer; and

(B) the statement covers the 12-month period described by Section 176.003(a); and

(3) the signature of the local government officer acknowledging that the statement is made under oath under penalty of perjury.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1014 (H.B. 914), Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 2005.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 226 (H.B. 1491), Sec. 4, eff. May 25, 2007.

Sec. 176.005. APPLICATION TO CERTAIN EMPLOYEES. (a) The local governmental entity may extend the requirements of Sections 176.003 and 176.004 to any employee of the local governmental entity who has the authority to approve contracts on behalf of the local governmental entity, including a person designated as the representative of the local governmental entity for purposes of Chapter 271. The local governmental entity shall identify each employee made subject to Sections 176.003 and 176.004 under this subsection and shall provide a list of the identified employees on request to any person.

(b) A local governmental entity may reprimand, suspend, or terminate the employment of an employee who knowingly fails to comply with a requirement adopted under this section.

(c) An employee of a local governmental entity commits an offense if the employee knowingly violates requirements imposed under this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.

(d) It is an exception to the application of Subsection (c) that the person filed the required conflicts disclosure statement not later than the seventh business day after the date the person received notice from the local governmental entity of the alleged violation.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1014 (H.B. 914), Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 2005.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 226 (H.B. 1491), Sec. 5, eff. May 25, 2007.

Sec. 176.006. DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS FOR VENDORS AND OTHER PERSONS; QUESTIONNAIRE. (a) A person described by Section 176.002(a) shall file a completed conflict of interest questionnaire if the person has a business relationship with a local governmental entity and:

(1) has an employment or other business relationship with an officer of that local governmental entity, or a family member of the officer, described by Section 176.003(a)(2)(A); or

(2) has given an officer of that local governmental entity, or a family member of the officer, one or more gifts with the aggregate value specified by Section 176.003(a)(2)(B), excluding any gift described by Section 176.003(a-1).

(a-1) The completed conflict of interest questionnaire must be filed with the appropriate records administrator not later than the seventh business day after the later of:

(1) the date that the person:

(A) begins discussions or negotiations to enter into a contract with the local governmental entity; or

(B) submits to the local governmental entity an application, response to a request for proposals or bids, correspondence, or another writing related to a potential contract with the local governmental entity; or

(2) the date the person becomes aware:

(A) of an employment or other business relationship with a local government officer, or a family member of the officer, described by Subsection (a); or

(B) that the person has given one or more gifts described by Subsection (a).

(b) The commission shall adopt a conflict of interest questionnaire for use under this section that requires disclosure of a person's business relationships with a local governmental entity.

(c) The questionnaire adopted under Subsection (b) must require, for the local governmental entity with respect to which the questionnaire is filed, that the person filing the questionnaire:

(1) describe each employment or business relationship the person has with each local government officer of the local governmental entity;

(2) identify each employment or business relationship described by Subdivision (1) with respect to which the local government officer receives, or is likely to receive, taxable income, other than investment income, from the person filing the questionnaire;

(3) identify each employment or business relationship described by Subdivision (1) with respect to which the person filing the questionnaire receives, or is likely to receive, taxable income, other than investment income, that:

(A) is received from, or at the direction of, a local government officer of the local governmental entity; and

(B) is not received from the local governmental entity; and

(4) describe each employment or business relationship with a corporation or other business entity with respect to which a local government officer of the local governmental entity:

(A) serves as an officer or director; or

(B) holds an ownership interest of 10 percent or more.

(d) A person described by Subsection (a) shall file an updated completed questionnaire with the appropriate records administrator not later than the seventh business day after the date of an event that would make a statement in the questionnaire incomplete or inaccurate.

(e) Repealed by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 87, Sec. 15.005, eff. September 1, 2009.

(f) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly violates this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.

(g) It is an exception to the application of Subsection (f) that the person filed the required questionnaire not later than the seventh business day after the date the person received notice from the local governmental entity of the alleged violation.

(h) A local governmental entity does not have a duty to ensure that a person described by Section 176.002 files a conflict of interest questionnaire.

(i) The validity of a contract between a person described by Section 176.002 and a local governmental entity is not affected solely because the person fails to comply with this section.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1014 (H.B. 914), Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 2005.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 226 (H.B. 1491), Sec. 6, eff. May 25, 2007.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 226 (H.B. 1491), Sec. 9, eff. May 25, 2007.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 87 (S.B. 1969), Sec. 15.005, eff. September 1, 2009.

Sec. 176.007. LIST OF GOVERNMENT OFFICERS. The records administrator for a local governmental entity shall maintain a list of local government officers of the entity and shall make that list available to the public and any person who may be required to file a questionnaire under Section 176.006.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1014 (H.B. 914), Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 2005.

Sec. 176.008. ELECTRONIC FILING. The requirements of this chapter, including signature requirements, may be satisfied by electronic filing in a form approved by the commission.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1014 (H.B. 914), Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 2005.

Sec. 176.009. POSTING ON INTERNET. (a) A local governmental entity that maintains an Internet website shall provide access to the statements and to questionnaires required to be filed under this chapter on that website. This subsection does not require a local governmental entity to maintain an Internet website.

(b) Repealed by Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 847, Sec. 3(b), eff. January 1, 2014.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1014 (H.B. 914), Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 2005.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 226 (H.B. 1491), Sec. 7, eff. May 25, 2007.

Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1163 (H.B. 2702), Sec. 76, eff. September 1, 2011.

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 847 (H.B. 195), Sec. 3(b), eff. January 1, 2014.

Sec. 176.010. REQUIREMENTS CUMULATIVE. The requirements of this chapter are in addition to any other disclosure required by law.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1014 (H.B. 914), Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 2005.

Sec. 176.011. MAINTENANCE OF RECORDS. A records administrator shall maintain the statements and questionnaires that are required to be filed under this chapter in accordance with the local governmental entity's records retention schedule.

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 226 (H.B. 1491), Sec. 8, eff. May 25, 2007.

Sec. 176.012. APPLICATION OF PUBLIC INFORMATION LAW. This chapter does not require a local governmental entity to disclose any information that is excepted from disclosure by Chapter 552, Government Code.

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 226 (H.B. 1491), Sec. 8, eff. May 25, 2007.