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Open Government

Legislators vote to restore some Texas government sunshine

A measure reviving the public's ability to review much of how Texas is spending taxpayer money has cleared the legislature and is expected to win the signature of Gov. Greg Abbott.

Enactment of the bill will assure that information about contracts that state agencies (and municipal governments, boards and commissions) make with businesses are public records with only a few exceptions. State and local officials have been able to keep much of that information secret for the past four years, because the Texas Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that public records requests could be denied in cases where sunshine could give a contractor's competitors an advantage.

That court decision gained notoriety soon after, when the border city of McAllen refused to say how much it paid singer Enrique Iglesias to perform at a festival that lost hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

Efforts to codify contractor transparency failed in the legislature two years ago but were revived, the Houston Chronicle reported, after a coalition was formed by the right-leaning Texas Public Policy Foundation and left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities.

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