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Council Member, Position 4/ Mayor Pro Tem
Texas Government Code Chapter 551, known as the Texas Open Meetings Act (or the “Act”) only applies when a quorum of a governmental body is in attendance and that body discusses public business. It does not apply to social gatherings that are unrelated to the body’s public business. It also does not apply when public officials attend regional, state, or national workshops, as long as there are no formal actions taken and any discussion of public business is only incidental to the event.
The Texas Open Meetings Act Made Easy, which can be found by Google search on the internet, restates the law:
“3. Does the Open Meetings Act always apply when a quorum of a governmental body is present?
The Act does not always apply when a quorum of the governmental body is present. There are exceptions throughout the Act when it does not apply when a quorum of the governmental body is present. These situations are:
1. A social gathering that is unrelated to the body’s public business, regional, state, or national conventions or workshops, ceremonial events, or press conferences, or the attendance by a quorum of a governmental body at a candidate forum, appearance, or debate to inform the electorate, as long as no formal actions are taken and the discussion of public business is only incidental to the event;8
2. Attendance at a legislative committee or state agency meeting if the deliberations at the meeting by the members of the governing body consist only of: a. Publicly testifying at the meeting, b. Publicly commenting at the meeting, and c. Publicly responding at the meeting to questions asked by a member of the legislative committee or agency;9 or
3. When the staff or a member of the governing body of a city or county makes a report about items of community interest during a meeting of the governing body without giving notice of the subject of the report if no action is taken and possible action is not discussed regarding the information provided in the report. Items of community interest include: a. Expressions of thanks, congratulations or condolence; b. Information regarding holiday schedules; c. An honorary or salutary recognition of a public official, public employee or other citizen, except that a discussion regarding a change in the status of a person’s public office or public employment is not an honorary or salutary recognition for purpose of this subdivision; d. A reminder about an upcoming event organized or sponsored by the governing body; e. Information regarding a social, ceremonial or community event organized or sponsored by an entity other than the governing body that was attended or is scheduled to be attended by a member of the governing body or an official or employee of the political subdivision; and f. Announcement involving an imminent threat to the public health and safety of people in the political subdivision that has arisen after the posing of the agenda.10”