|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
November 9, 2000
Mr. Tim Curry
Dear Mr. Curry:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 141128.
The Tarrant County Hospital District (the "district"), which you represent, received a request for "[a]ll the budgetary information prepared and ready to be presented at the JPS Board of Managers meeting last Thursday, August 24, including any information related to possible reductions or changes in patient services, or other possible deficit-reduction measures." You have made "almost all" of the requested information available to the requestor; however, you claim that one document is excepted from disclosure under section 552.106 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.106(a) protects drafts and working papers involved in the preparation of proposed legislation. The purpose of the exception is similar to that of section 552.111: to encourage frank discussion on policy matters between the subordinates or advisors of a legislative body and the legislative body and to thereby protect the internal "deliberative" or policy making processes of a governmental body. Open Records Decision No. 460 (1987). Section 552.106 does not except purely factual material; rather, it excepts only policy judgments, recommendations, and proposals involved in the preparation of proposed legislation. Section 552.106 applies only to drafts and working papers prepared by persons with some official responsibility to prepare them for the legislative body. Id. You state that section 281.048 of the Health and Safety Code gives the hospital district board the ability to adopt rules governing the operation of the hospital or hospital system. You state that a body that has the lawful authority to create rules and regulations is a legislative body by definition. Further, you state that Hooten v. Enriquez, 863 S.W. 2d 522 (Tex.App.-El Paso 1993) establishes that when a local governmental entity creates its budget it performs a legislative function. We note that Hotten dealt with a county commissioner's court and not with a state agency. We do not find Hotten germane to the application of Section 552.106 of the Government Code to the information here at issue. After reviewing your assertions, we find that you have not sufficiently demonstrated that a hospital district is a legislative body as contemplated by section 552.106 of the Public Information Act. Accordingly, we conclude that the district may not withhold the submitted information under section 552.106 of the Government Code and must release the submitted document to the requestor.
If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. § 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408,411 (Tex. App.-Austin 1992, no writ).
Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to the General Services Commission at 512/475-2497.
Noelle C. Letteri
Ref: ID# 141128
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Charlotte Huff