Conflict of Interest

H.B. No. 914

AN ACT

relating to disclosure and availability of certain information
concerning certain local government officers and vendors;
providing criminal penalties.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Subtitle C, Title 5, Local Government Code, is
amended by adding Chapter 176 to read as follows:

CHAPTER 176. DISCLOSURE OF CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS WITH LOCAL
GOVERNMENT OFFICERS; PROVIDING PUBLIC ACCESS TO CERTAIN
INFORMATION

Sec. 176.001. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
(1) "Commission" means the Texas Ethics Commission.
(2) "Family member" means a person related to another
person within the first degree by consanguinity or affinity, as
described by Subchapter B, Chapter 573, Government Code.

(3) "Local governmental entity" means a county,
municipality, school district, junior college district, or other
political subdivision of this state or a local government
corporation, board, commission, district, or authority to which a
member is appointed by the commissioners court of a county, the
mayor of a municipality, or the governing body of a municipality.
The term does not include an association, corporation, or
organization of governmental entities organized to provide to its
members education, assistance, products, or services or to
represent its members before the legislative, administrative, or
judicial branches of the state or federal government.

(4) "Local government officer" means:
(A) a member of the governing body of a local
governmental entity; or

(B) a director, superintendent, administrator,
president, or other person designated as the executive officer of
the local governmental entity.

(5) "Records administrator" means the director,
county clerk, municipal secretary, superintendent, or other person
responsible for maintaining the records of the local governmental
entity.

Sec. 176.002. APPLICABILITY TO CERTAIN VENDORS AND OTHER
PERSONS. (a) This chapter applies to a person who:

(1) contracts or seeks to contract for the sale or
purchase of property, goods, or services with a local governmental
entity; or

(2) is an agent of a person described by Subdivision
(1) in the person's business with a local governmental entity.

(b) A person is not subject to the disclosure requirements
of this chapter if the person is:

(1) a state, a political subdivision of a state, the
federal government, or a foreign government; or

(2) an employee of an entity described by Subdivision
(1), acting in the employee's official capacity.

Sec. 176.003. CONFLICTS DISCLOSURE STATEMENT REQUIRED. (a)
A local government officer shall file a conflicts disclosure
statement with respect to a person described by Section 176.002(a)
if:

(1) the person has contracted with the local
governmental entity or the local governmental entity is considering
doing business with the person; and

(2) the person:
(A) has an employment or other business
relationship with the local government officer or a family member
of the officer that results in the officer or family member
receiving taxable income; or

(B) has given to the local government officer or
a family member of the officer one or more gifts, other than gifts
of food, lodging, transportation, or entertainment accepted as a
guest, that have an aggregate value of more than $250 in the
12-month period preceding the date the officer becomes aware that:

(i) a contract described by Subdivision (1)
has been executed; or

(ii) the local governmental entity is
considering doing business with the person.

(b) A local government officer shall file the conflicts
disclosure statement with the records administrator of the local
governmental entity not later than 5 p.m. on the seventh business
day after the date on which the officer becomes aware of the facts
that require the filing of the statement under Subsection (a).

(c) A local government officer commits an offense if the
officer knowingly violates this section. An offense under this
subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.

(d) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (c) that
the person filed the required conflicts disclosure statement not
later than the seventh business day after the date the person
received notice of the violation.

Sec. 176.004. CONTENTS OF DISCLOSURE STATEMENT. The
commission shall adopt the conflicts disclosure statement for local
government officers. The conflicts disclosure statement must
include:

(1) a requirement that each local government officer
disclose:

(A) an employment or other business relationship
described by Section 176.003(a), including the nature and extent of
the relationship; and

(B) gifts received by the local government
officer and any family member of the officer from a person described
by Section 176.002(a) during the 12-month period described by
Section 176.003(a)(2)(B) if the aggregate value of the gifts from
that person exceed $250;

(2) an acknowledgment from the local government
officer that:

(A) the disclosure applies to each family member
of the officer; and

(B) the statement covers the 12-month period
described by Section 176.003(a)(2)(B); and

(3) the signature of the local government officer
acknowledging that the statement is made under oath under penalty
of perjury.

Sec. 176.005. APPLICATION TO CERTAIN EMPLOYEES. (a) The
local governmental entity may extend the requirements of Sections
176.003 and 176.004 to all or a group of the employees of the local
governmental entity.

(b) A local governmental entity may reprimand, suspend, or
terminate the employment of an employee who fails to comply with a
requirement adopted under this section.

(c) An employee of a local governmental entity commits an
offense if the employee knowingly violates requirements imposed
under this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class C
misdemeanor.

(d) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (c) that
the person filed the required conflicts disclosure statement not
later than the seventh business day after the date the person
received notice of the violation.

Sec. 176.006. DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS FOR VENDORS AND OTHER
PERSONS; QUESTIONNAIRE. (a) A person described by Section
176.002(a) shall file a completed conflict of interest
questionnaire with the appropriate records administrator not later
than the seventh business day after the date that the person:

(1) begins contract discussions or negotiations with
the local governmental entity; or

(2) submits to the local governmental entity an
application, response to a request for proposals or bids,
correspondence, or another writing related to a potential agreement
with the local governmental entity.

(b) The commission shall adopt a conflict of interest
questionnaire for use under this section that requires disclosure
of a person's affiliations or business relationships that might
cause a conflict of interest with a local governmental entity.

(c) The questionnaire adopted under Subsection (b) must
require, for the local governmental entity with respect to which
the questionnaire is filed, that the person filing the
questionnaire:

(1) describe each affiliation or business
relationship the person has with each local government officer of
the local governmental entity;

(2) identify each affiliation or business
relationship described by Subdivision (1) with respect to which the
local government officer receives, or is likely to receive, taxable
income from the person filing the questionnaire;

(3) identify each affiliation or business
relationship described by Subdivision (1) with respect to which the
person filing the questionnaire receives, or is likely to receive,
taxable income that:

(A) is received from, or at the direction of, a
local government officer of the local governmental entity; and

(B) is not received from the local governmental
entity;

(4) describe each affiliation or business
relationship with a corporation or other business entity with
respect to which a local government officer of the local
governmental entity:

(A) serves as an officer or director; or
(B) holds an ownership interest of 10 percent or
more;

(5) describe each affiliation or business
relationship with an employee or contractor of the local
governmental entity who makes recommendations to a local government
officer of the local governmental entity with respect to the
expenditure of money;

(6) describe each affiliation or business
relationship with a person who:

(A) is a local government officer; and
(B) appoints or employs a local government
officer of the local governmental entity that is the subject of the
questionnaire; and

(7) describe any other affiliation or business
relationship that might cause a conflict of interest.

(d) A person described by Subsection (a) shall file an
updated completed questionnaire with the appropriate records
administrator not later than:

(1) September 1 of each year in which an activity
described by Subsection (a) is pending; and

(2) the seventh business day after the date of an event
that would make a statement in the questionnaire incomplete or
inaccurate.

(e) A person is not required to file an updated completed
questionnaire under Subsection (d)(1) in a year if the person has
filed a questionnaire under Subsection (c) or (d)(2) on or after
June 1, but before September 1, of that year.

(f) A person commits an offense if the person violates this
section. An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.

(g) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (f) that
the person filed the required questionnaire not later than the
seventh business day after the date the person received notice of
the violation.

Sec. 176.007. LIST OF GOVERNMENT OFFICERS. The records
administrator for a local governmental entity shall maintain a list
of local government officers of the entity and shall make that list
available to the public and any person who may be required to file a
questionnaire under Section 176.006.

Sec. 176.008. ELECTRONIC FILING. The requirements of this
chapter, including signature requirements, may be satisfied by
electronic filing in a form approved by the commission.

Sec. 176.009. POSTING ON INTERNET. (a) A local
governmental entity shall provide access to the statements and
questionnaires filed under this chapter on the Internet website
maintained by the local governmental entity.

(b) This subsection applies only to a county with a
population of 800,000 or more or a municipality with a population of
500,000 or more. A county or municipality shall provide, on the
Internet website maintained by the county or municipality, access
to each report of political contributions and expenditures filed
under Chapter 254, Election Code, by a member of the commissioners
court of the county or the governing body of the municipality in
relation to that office as soon as practicable after the officer
files the report.

Sec. 176.010. REQUIREMENTS CUMULATIVE. The requirements of
this chapter are in addition to any other disclosure required by
law.

SECTION 2. The Texas Ethics Commission shall adopt the
conflicts disclosure statement and the conflict of interest
questionnaire required by Chapter 176, Local Government Code, as
added by this Act, not later than December 1, 2005.
SECTION 3. (a) A local government officer is not required
to file a conflicts disclosure statement under Chapter 176, Local
Government Code, as added by this Act, before January 1, 2006.
(b) A person described by Section 176.002(a), Local
Government Code, as added by this Act, is not required to file a
conflict of interest questionnaire under Chapter 176, Local
Government Code, as added by this Act, before January 1, 2006.
SECTION 4. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this
Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
Act takes effect September 1, 2005.

______________________________ ______________________________

President of the Senate Speaker of the House

I certify that H.B. No. 914 was passed by the House on March
23, 2005, by the following vote: Yeas 145, Nays 0, 2 present, not
voting; and that the House concurred in Senate amendments to H.B.
No. 914 on May 26, 2005, by the following vote: Yeas 131, Nays 0, 1
present, not voting.

______________________________
Chief Clerk of the House


I certify that H.B. No. 914 was passed by the Senate, with
amendments, on May 23, 2005, by the following vote: Yeas 31, Nays
0.

______________________________
Secretary of the Senate

APPROVED: __________________

Date

__________________

Governor