Texans For Public Justice

Texans for Public Justice,  609 W. 18th Street, Suite E,  Austin, TX 78701, PH:(512) 472-9770, FAX:(512) 472-9830 E-Mail: tpj@tpj.org , http://www.tpj.org

February 11, 2003

Representative Gabi Canales
Texas House of Representatives
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768

Dear Representative Canales:

Pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act, Government Code, Chapter 552 (as amended), I am seeking information on legislative continuances that you have sought or obtained. Under specific circumstances, Texas law allows courts, arbitration boards and state agencies that perform quasi-judicial functions to grant “legislative continuances” to legislators who are either legal counsel or parties to civil or criminal suits (Sec. 30.003 of the Civil Practices and Remedies Code).

I am requesting information on all such legislative continuances that you have sought or obtained from November 6, 2002 through the present. The information I am seeking should include but not be limited to any written requests or pleadings for such continuances.

Legislative continuances are privileges granted exclusively to state legislators by virtue of their official office. The Texas Public Information Act (Sec. 552.001) says that, “Under the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative government that adheres to the principle that government is the servant and not the master of the people, it is the policy of this state that each person is entitled, unless otherwise expressly provided by law, at all times to complete information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so they may retain control over the instruments they have created. The provisions of this chapter shall be liberally construed to implement this policy.”

Because the requested information on legislative continuances is already part of public court records, this request clearly is covered by the Texas Public Information Law. In its 2000 Texas Public Information Handbook, the Office of the Attorney General lists examples of public information, including “Information that is also contained in a public court record.” (see page 160).

Under Section  552.267(a) of the Texas Public Information Act, I am asking you to waive any fees associated with this request. That section of the law reads:

“Waiver or Reduction of Charge for Providing Copy of Public Information. (a) A governmental body shall provide a copy of public information without charge or at a reduced charge if the governmental body determines that waiver or reduction of the charge is in the public interest because providing the copy of the information primarily benefits the general public.”

This request merits such an exemption because:

  1.  Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) is a non-profit research and policy organization exclusively organized to promote the public interest, as stated in our articles of incorporation filed with the Texas Secretary of State. The Internal Revenue Service has recognized TPJ as a non-profit, public interest research organization under Sec. 501(c)(4) of the IRS Code.

  3. TPJ has no commercial interest in obtaining the information.  By the very nature of our non-profit purpose, we have no commercial interests in general. Specifically, we have no commercial interests in the information sought in this request. Our purpose for obtaining these records is to further public understanding of the workings of government.
If you decide to deny any part of this request, including our request for a fee waiver under the public-interest exemption of the Texas Public Information Act, please inform me of the specific reasons for your denial. If you deny the fee waiver portion of this request, please provide me with a copy of the standards that you apply in evaluating and denying such requests. Finally, please inform me of any estimated costs before filling this request. Kindly respond to this request within the 10 days stipulated under the Texas Public Information Act. If you need additional information, please call.

Thank you for your cooperation.


Andrew Wheat
Research Director
Texans for Public Justice

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