If you are a taxpayer, you understand the importance of knowing where your hard earned taxes are going. Unfortunately, the rulings in two court cases (Boeing Co v. Paxton and Greater Houston Partnership v. Paxton) have stripped away the taxpayer’s right to know where his or her taxes are going. Here, you can find more information on these two cases and how they have set precedent for limited government transparency in Texas.
Boeing Co. v. Paxton’s Impact on Open Government
In less than three years, more than 2,000 opinions of the Texas attorney general have cited Boeing Co. v. Paxton, 466 S.W.3d 831 (Tex. 2015), as part of their the justification for denying the public’s requests to access information that could otherwise be subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Section 552.104(a) of the Government Code excepts from disclosure “information that, if released, would give an advantage to a competitor or bidder.” Gov’t Code § 552.104(a).
The Boeing case states that the “test under section 552.104 is whether knowing another bidder’s [or competitor’s information] would be an advantage, not whether it would be a decisive advantage.” This analysis highlights some egregious examples of government secrecy that exploded in Boeing’s wake.
Greater Houston Partnership v. Paxton Ruling’s Impact on Open Government
The Texas Supreme Court decided Greater Houston Partnership v. Paxton, 468 S.W.3d 51 (Tex. 2015) in June 2015. The decision heightened the standard for an entity to be deemed a governmental body, resulting in a lower threshold for such an entity to deny information to the public. The Texas Attorney General has cited Greater Houston Partnership 35 times since June 2015. The AG has cited the case on multiple occasions as a basis for denying information to the public.
Want to see what other effects the Greater Houston Partnership ruling has had on government transparency? CLICK HERE to find out more.
If you think government transparency is bad for business, think again. CLICK HERE to learn how an open government can be good for business.