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The Public Information Act

Texas Government Code, Chapter 552, gives you the right to access government records; and an officer for public information and the officer’s agent may not ask why you want them. All government information is presumed to be available to the public. Certain exceptions may apply to the disclosure of the information. Governmental bodies shall promptly release requested information that is not confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision, or information for which an exception to disclosure has not been sought.

Rights of Requestors

You have the right to:

Responsibilities of Governmental Bodies

All governmental bodies responding to information requests have the responsibility to:

Procedures to Obtain Information.

  1. Submit a request by mail, fax, email or in person according to a governmental body's reasonable procedures.
  2. Include enough description and detail about the information requested to enable the governmental body to accurately identify and locate the information requested.
  3. Cooperate with the governmental body's reasonable efforts to clarify the type or amount of information requested.
A. Information to be released
  • You may review it promptly, and if it cannot be produced within 10 working days the public information officer will notify you in writing of the reasonable date and time when it will be available.
  • Keep all appointments to inspect records and to pick up copies. Failure to keep appointments may result in losing the opportunity to inspect the information at the time requested.

Cost of Records

  • You must respond to any written estimate of charges within 10 days of the date the governmental body sent it or the request is considered automatically withdrawn.
  • If estimated costs exceed $100.00 (or $50.00 if a governmental body has fewer than 16 full time employees) the governmental body may require a bond, prepayment or deposit.
  • You may ask the governmental body to determine whether providing the information primarily benefits the general public, resulting in a waiver or reduction of charges.
  • Make a timely payment for all mutually agreed charges. A governmental body can demand payment of overdue balances exceeding $100.00, or obtain a security deposit, before processing additional requests from you.

B. Information that may be withheld due to an exception

  • By the 10th business day after a governmental body receives your written request, a governmental body must:

1. request an Attorney General opinion and state which exceptions apply;

2. notify the requestor of the referral to the Attorney General; and

3. notify third parties if the request involves their proprietary information.

  • Failure to request an Attorney General opinion and notify the requestor within 10 business days will result in a presumption that the information is open unless there is a compelling reason to withhold it.
  • Requestors may send a letter to the Attorney General arguing for release, and may review arguments made by the governmental body. If the arguments disclose the requested information, the requestor may obtain a redacted copy.
  • The Attorney General must issue a decision no later than the 45th working day from the day after the attorney general received the request for a decision. The attorney general may request an additional 10 working day extension.
  • Governmental bodies may not ask the Attorney General to "reconsider" an opinion.
  • To request information from this governmental body, please contact:

You may send your request
By mail to: Jeff Branick, P. O. Box 4025, Beaumont, Tx. 77704
By e-mail to: jbranick@co.jefferson.tx.us
By fax to: 409-839-2311
In person at: 1149 Pearl, 4th fl., Beaumont, Texas

For complaints regarding failure to release public information please contact your local County or District Attorney at:

You may also contact the Office of the Attorney General, Open Records Hotline, at 512-478-6736 or toll-free at 1-877-673-6839.

For complaints regarding overcharges, please contact the General Services Commission at 512-475-2497.

If you need special accommodation pursuant to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), please contact our ADA coordinator, ________________ at _______________ .

 


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