HBA-TYH H.B. 156 76(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 156 By: Wolens State Affairs 2/9/1999 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE A fundamental premise of the Texas Open Meetings Act is that all meetings of governmental bodies are open to the public unless an exception is specified by the Act or permitted by the Texas Constitution. It is unclear whether the Act applies to informal meetings, such as staff briefings. At least one state board has conducted its deliberations as part of staff briefings that are closed to the public. H.B. 156 amends the definition of "meeting" to include an informal "gathering," which is any meeting of a quorum of members of a governmental body and a third party to discuss public business or public policy over which the governmental body has supervision or control. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Section 551.001(4), Government Code, to expand the definition of "meeting" to include a gathering: that is conducted by the governmental body or for which the governmental body is responsible, that has a quorum of members of the governmental body present, that has been called by the governmental body, and that the members receive information from, give information to, ask questions of, or receive questions from any third person, including an employee of the governmental body, about the public business or public policy over which the governmental body has supervision or control. SECTION 2. Amends Subchapter A, Chapter 551, Government Code, to add Section 551.005, as follows: Sec. 551.005. RECEIVING INFORMATION IN GATHERING OF LESS THAN A QUORUM. Permits a member or group of members of a governing board of an institution of higher education, that schedules fewer than five regularly held meetings per year, to gather in numbers less than a quorum for the purpose of receiving information from or asking questions of any third person, including an employee of a governmental body. SECTION 3. Repealer: Section 551.075, Government Code (Conference With Employees; Closed Meeting). SECTION 4.Emergency clause. Effective date: upon passage.