A commissioners court possesses implied authority to utilize recycling programs for discarding routine county waste. Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. KP-420 (2022).
The Cherokee County Attorney requested a Texas Attorney General Opinion regarding the authority of a county to dispose of salvage property, specifically old culverts, under section 263.152 of the Local Government Code. The Attorney General determined that whether culverts are considered routinely discarded waste is a fact question that cannot be resolved in an Attorney General opinion. However, the opinion provides general guidance regarding a county’s legal authority to dispose of property.
The opinion advises that a commissioners court has implied authority to utilize recycling programs in disposing of routinely discarded county waste. More specifically, Section 263.152 of the Local Government Code authorizes a county to periodically sell the county’s surplus or salvage property by competitive bid or auction. If a county attempts to sell salvage property by competitive bidding or auction but receives no bids, then the county may dispose of the property through certain recycling programs. Notably, a county is not precluded from utilizing recycling programs in circumstances that are not specified in the statute.
Further, the opinion provides that Chapter 263 of the Local Government Code does not expressly govern a commissioners court’s authority to dispose of a county’s routinely discarded waste, nor does any other statute. Instead, the Texas Legislature tasked commissioners courts with certain duties and responsibilities with respect to landfills and other solid waste disposal in the county. Based on this authority, to the extent necessary to accomplish its assigned duties, a commissioners court possesses implied authority to utilize recycling programs for the disposition of routinely discarded county waste, subject to other applicable law.
Machine-generation methods of numbering ballots may comply with Texas Election Code. Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. KP-422 (2022).
The Honorable Matthew A. Mills, Hood County Attorney requested a Texas Attorney General opinion regarding the procedure for numbering election ballots and a commissioners court’s authority to mandate a voting system to an elections administrator. In light of recently purchased new voting equipment from Hart InterCivic, Inc., Hood County sought guidance as to (1) whether the machine-generation method of numbering ballots complies with the Texas Election Code, (2) which officials are authorized to select the method for numbering ballots, and (3) whether a jurisdiction using a voting system for an election may number split ballot batches in certain instances.
The opinion advises that the machine-generation method of numbering ballots complies with Section 52.062 of the Election Code. Chapter 52 of the Election Code expressly authorizes the Secretary of State to “prescribe the form and content of a ballot for an election using a voting system, including a voting system that uses direct recording electronic voting machines or ballot marking devices, to conform to the formatting requirements of the system.” Because the statute’s wording does not require nor rule out any particular method of printing numbers on a ballot, a machine-generation method of numbering ballots does not contradict Chapter 52.
Further, under the Election Code, a commissioners court has the authority to adopt a particular voting system and the elections administrator has the duty of preparing ballots. The county clerk is typically responsible for preparing the official ballot when an election is ordered. However, in Hood County, the election administrator performs the duties and functions of the county clerk. Therefore, it is the elections administrator’s responsibility to prepare the official ballot, including selecting the ballot numbering method. Because the statutes do not vest ballot-preparation or supervisory authority in any other entity, the elections administrator has sole authority to select the numbering method.
Finally, the Attorney General determined that whether a jurisdiction using a voting system may number split ballot batches is a fact question beyond the scope of the opinion. However, the opinion notes that, pursuant to Section 52.075 of the Election Code, there must be a connection between any ballot form or content modification and the formatting requirements of the voting system.
Texas Attorney General determines what services a notary public may provide and the fees a notary public may charge under state law. Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. KP-423 (2022).
State Representative Briscoe Cain requested a Texas Attorney General Opinion pertaining to the online notarization process. In response, the Attorney General advises (1) the law does not prohibit a notary public performing an online notarization from including additional information, (2) a notary public may charge a $5.00 fee for identification verification and document storage, and (3) a notary public must obtain the consent of the person whose identity is being established before releasing a record of an online notarization.
The law does not prohibit a notary public performing an online notarization from including additional information as long as it does not interfere with the notary’s obligations under Subsections 406.108(b)(1) and 406.109(d) of the Government Code or the Texas Secretary of State’s rules. Therefore, in addition to an electronic seal, a notary performing an online notarization may add information such as a barcode used to identify a document within the notary’s storage.
Additionally, an online notary may charge $5.00 for identification verification and document storage pursuant to Section 406.111 of the Government Code if the fee would not cause the $25.00 maximum fee for online notarization to be exceeded. However, the opinion advises, a court is unlikely to conclude that a catch-all fee in Subsection 406.024(a)(11) for “notarial acts not provided for” was intended to encompass components of the online notarization process such as identify verification and document storage.
Lastly, the opinion advises that any release of an audio visual recording containing the presentation of an identification card or credential would require the removal of biometric information as well as the entire image of the identification card or credential. If not, a notary public must obtain the consent of the person whose identity is being established before releasing a record of an online notarization containing those items, whether by secure email or otherwise.
Madison Huerta is an Associate in the Firm’s Governmental Relations, Water, and Districts Practice Groups. If you would like additional information or have questions related to these or other matters, please contact Madison at 512.322.5825 or firstname.lastname@example.org.