AFP-Texas Announces Support for Bills to Improve Texans’ Access to Information
May 6, 2019 by AFP
AUSTIN, Texas – Americans for Prosperity Texas (AFP-TX) announced its support for five bills that will increase government transparency and give Texans greater access to information.
“A good government is a transparent one. When citizens have access to information about what their government is doing, they’re able to hold those in power accountable,” said Americans for Prosperity-Texas State Director Jerome Greener. “We’re supporting these five bills because Texans shouldn’t be kept in the dark about how their government is operating or how their tax dollars are spent.”
House Bill 147 (Rep. Joe Moody) – Deaths in Custody
This bill closes a loophole in current law by ensuring that public records regarding any individual who dies in police custody are available under Texas’s freedom of information laws.
The bill also explicitly states that public records involving peace officers who are the subject of a criminal or internal investigations are available through the state’s freedom of information laws.
As a result, journalists and the public will be able to access important information related to police officers and deaths that occur while individuals are in their custody.
House Bill 2189/Senate Bill 943 (Rep. Giovanni Capriglione/Sen. Kirk Watson) – Contractor Transparency
These bills respond to the Texas Supreme Court decision, Boeing Co. v. Paxton, which allowed government contractors to limit how much information about their taxpayer-funded activities could be disclosed.
This bill ensures that taxpayers will be able to request important information regarding the bidding process for government contracts and other information essential for government oversight.
House Bill 3402/Senate Bill 1640 (Rep. Todd Hunter/Sen. Kirk Watson) – Open Meetings Laws
These bills clarify the procedures for public meetings in the state of Texas. Recent Supreme Court decisions have interpreted open record laws too narrowly for the public to be consistently aware of what their political leaders are doing.
Passage would require that government entities conduct their business in sight of the public, which will allow for the public to hold their elected officials accountable.
House Bill 1700 (Rep. Todd Hunter) – Custodian Loophole
This bill closes a loophole in the Texas’s freedom of information laws. Currently, custodians of records do not have to disclose information that deals with public activity if it occurs on a private device.
This bill closes that loophole and ensures that the public has information about government business that officials hold on private devices or channels such as cell phones or personal email addresses.