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Author Archives: Scott Francis

political advertising

Public Building or Public Funds?

By Scott Francis |

In a recent blog post, we discussed how Texas cities may inadvertently violate the Elections Code by authorizing the use of employee time for political advertising. However, does this statute also affect the ability of a municipality to allow political events at city-owned facilities? We are often asked the question of whether it is… Read More »

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Abandoned Vehicle

One Man’s Trash, Another Man’s Treasure: Abandoned Vehicles

By Scott Francis |

Whether you’re in a major metropolitan area, or a small rural community, one thing all Texas cities have in common is the existence of unwelcome abandoned vehicles. Abandoned cars, trucks, and RVs are not only an eyesore to most members of the community but can be a particular nuisance when occupying valuable parking spaces… Read More »

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New Laws Texas Cities Must Keep in Mind When Making New Year’s Resolutions

By Scott Francis |

The 88th Texas Legislature Session ushered in hundreds of new laws that directly affect the way Texas municipalities conduct business. Through the latter half of 2023, cities across the state have already been making necessary adjustments to the manner in which they regulate agricultural and farming operations (H.B. 1750, H.J.R. 126), interact with their… Read More »

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Advisory Committee

When is an Advisory Committee Subject to the Texas Open Meetings Act?

By Scott Francis |

Under the Texas Open Meetings Act – except in certain scenarios dictated by the Act – Texas cities are required to hold every regular, special, or called meeting of the governmental body open to the public.  The Act defines a governmental body to include any deliberative body that has rulemaking or quasi-judicial power and… Read More »

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Advertisement

In Political Advertising, Time (and Slogans) Equal Money

By Scott Francis |

Under the Texas Elections Code, an officer or employee of a political subdivision may not knowingly spend or authorize the spending of public funds for political advertising. Tex. Elec. Code § 255.003. Political advertising is defined as “a communication supporting or opposing a candidate for nomination or election to a public office or office… Read More »

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HB 1817 Places Onus on Cities to Escape Potentially Voidable Contracts

By Scott Francis |

In 2015, the Texas Legislature adopted House Bill 1295 – an ethics law requiring a written disclosure of interested parties by business entities that enter certain contracts with governmental entities, including municipalities. Now, before entering into a contract with a Texas municipality that requires an action or vote by the city council before the… Read More »

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Trademark

Hey, You Can’t Use That Logo! It Belongs to the City . . . right?

By Scott Francis |

As more and more businesses flock to the Lone Star State, cities in Texas are increasingly embracing municipal branding initiatives to promote what their communities have to offer and distinguish themselves from increased competition for business investment and tourism dollars. Just as with commercial businesses, the most effective approach for municipalities to build and… Read More »

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unincorporated

How an Unincorporated Community Can Become a City in Texas

By Scott Francis |

Texas has more than 1,200 incorporated cities – or municipalities. Such municipalities range in size from Houston (with more than 2.3 million residents) to over 400 towns with populations of fewer than 1,000. However, Texas also has more than double that number of unincorporated communities. So, what is the difference between an unincorporated community and an… Read More »

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TABC

The TABC and Texas Cities

By Scott Francis |

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code (TABC) sets forth the legal framework for alcohol regulation in the state, including licensing, enforcement, and taxation. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §§1.01 et seq. In general, Texas municipalities must look to the legislature for a grant of authority to regulate businesses selling alcohol. Courts have interpreted such provisions to… Read More »

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Free Speech

Government Speech: When does a city’s speech cross the line into unlawful censorship?

By Scott Francis |

When it comes to exercising control over city-sponsored programs, Texas municipalities are often confronted with difficult First Amendment issues. For example, can a city’s Facebook page erase public comments or unfavorable hyperlinks on the basis that such items undermine the city’s message? Or can a city prohibit certain religious organizations from entering a float… Read More »

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