BILLS WOULD REQUIRE A MAILED NOTICE IN ADDITION TO THE POSTINGS REQUIRED BY THE OPEN MEETINGS ACT
House Bill 554 (Menendez) and its companion, S.B. 820 (Duncan), would require cities to mail, at the cities’ expense, some council meeting notices to anyone who requests them.
The bills relate to model building codes. The first part of each bill provides that a city may establish a Model Building Codes Advisory Board to review and recommend the adoption of or amendments to a building code. If the city establishes such a board, the board must include:
- a builder registered with the state;
- an architect registered with the state or a building designer;
- a commercial building contractor;
- a building facilities manager;
- an owner or representative of multifamily housing;
- an owner or manager of an industrial, manufacturing, or warehouse facility;
- a licensed engineer;
- a licensed mechanical, electrical or plumbing engineer;
- a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractor;
- a licensed master electrician;
- a licensed master plumber; and
- a developer active in property development.
It is unlikely that any small Texas city has all these people living anywhere near the city.
The second part of the bills provides that if a city doesn’t establish a Model Building Codes Advisory Board (and, of course, most small cities couldn’t), then the city must:
- allow any and all persons to register with the city secretary to receive written notice from the city whenever the city will consider the adoption of, or an amendment to, a national model code; and
- provide such written notice at least 30 days in advance of any action by the city’s governing body.
The bills provide no funding source for preparing or mailing the notices, even if thousands of people register with the city secretary.
The final section of the bills provides that a code or code amendment may generally not go into effect until 30 days have passed.
If these bills are enacted, it is likely that many other groups will want to receive written notification of impending city council actions. Pet owners, for example, will certainly want advance notice when the council plans to adopt or amend a leash law. Sign owners would certainly want advance, written notice of certain actions. So would neighborhood groups, tow truck operators, city vendors, people who water their lawns, and on and on.
In short, these bills could be impossible to carry out in small cities and extremely costly in larger cities.
Why are the notice provisions of the Open Meetings Act not enough?