|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:
Thank you for your cooperation.
Texans for Public Justice
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