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AG Opinions

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Index of TOMA

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History of TOMA

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Texas Open Meetings Act
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

In 1967 the Texas Legislature passed the first version of the Texas Open Meetings Act. The TOMA, as it is often called, was originally found in Vernon's Annotated Texas Statutes at Article 6252-17. The first version of TOMA took just three pages to print. Over the years it has grown in size and it has been renumbered and moved to Chapter 551 of the Government Code.

The purpose of the TOMA is to guarantee to the people of Texas that meetings of governmental bodies are held in the open, not behind closed doors.

This webpage is devoted to the Texas Open Meetings Act. It is written for the lay person, not attorneys. I have set it up in the hope that it will be of use to individuals who are interested in seeing that governmental decisions are made in the open, where all those affected by them can see what is going on.

Sadly, there is a tendency for governmental officials to prefer closed meetings to open ones. There is a tendency to meet in private, rather than in public. There is a tendency to decide things informally, and only "ratify" things in public.

The Texas Open Meetings Act is a powerful tool in the fight to end these secretative tendencies. It is designed to give guidance to public officials on how to conduct government business and to be used as a sword by members of the public should those officials try to ignore its commandants.

Texas has declared that government in this state--at all levels--is open to the scrutiny of the public, and not reserved as a plaything of officialdom. The Texas Open Meetings Act is designed to insure that open government is the rule, not the exception, in Texas. Use it well.

Last Revised 2/15/03

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