Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
To assist officials and vendors in understanding House Bill (H.B.) 914, the Texas Municipal League (TML) developed these frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Q: What local governmental entities are subject to H.B. 914?
A: Cities; local government corporations (e.g., economic development corporations); city boards and commissions (e.g., boards of adjustment and planning and zoning commissions); city authorities (e.g., housing authorities); and almost every other type of political subdivision in Texas.
Q: What vendors are subject to H.B. 914?
A: Any person who contracts or seeks to contract for the sale or purchase of property, goods, or services with a local governmental entity; and an agent of a person who contracts or seeks to contract for the sale or purchase of property, goods, or services with a local governmental entity.
Q: Does this include a person who buys city property?
A: The bill appears to apply to all persons or businesses who conduct business with a city, including those who submit bids on city contracts, make purchases of surplus city property, or participate in any other purchase or sales transactions with a city.
Q: What local government officials are subject to H.B. 914?
A: For most cities, the following officers are subject to H.B. 914: mayors and city councilmembers; city manager or administrator; city board, commission, and authority members; economic development corporation board members; an executive director of an economic development corporation; and any other person who is designated as an executive officer of a city.
Q: What triggers the requirement that a city official file a conflicts disclosure statement?
A: An officer subject to the bill, as outlined above, must file a conflicts disclosure statement within seven days of becoming aware of either of the following situations:
- A city officer or the officer's family member has an employment or business relationship that results in taxable income with a person who has contracted with the city or with whom the city is considering doing business.
- A city officer or the officer's family member receives and accepts one or more gifts with an aggregate value of $250 in the preceding twelve months from a person who conducts business or is being considered for business with the city.
Q: What is a family member for purposes of the bill?
A: A family member is defined as a person related to another person within the first degree by consanguinity (blood) or affinity (marriage). This definition includes a spouse, father, mother, son, daughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, and so on.
Q: Does receiving gifts such as food, lodging, transportation, or entertainment make a city officer subject to the bill?
A: No, such gifts, regardless of amount, do not trigger the conflicts disclosure statement requirement.
Q: With whom should the statement be filed?
A: The statement should be filed with the city's records administrator, which is usually the city secretary.
Q: What happens if a statement is not filed?
A: An officer who knowingly fails to file the statement commits a class C misdemeanor. A class C misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Q: Who must file a conflict of interest questionnaire?
A: Any person who contracts or seeks to contract for the sale or purchase of property, goods, or services with a city (including submitting a bid on a city contract) must file a questionnaire.
Q: To what type of contracts does the bill apply?
A: Any written contract and any implied contract, such as purchase orders, procurement card purchases, utility purchases, and more. As written, the bill appears to apply to any purchase made by a city. Of course, that interpretation will be extremely burdensome to many cities. A more reasonable interpretation is that the bill only applies to large, written contracts. But the plain language of the bill does not unambiguously support that view. Thus, city officials should consult with local legal counsel to determine how strictly they wish to interpret the bill.
Q: When must a vendor file the conflict of interest questionnaire?
A: A person who wishes to conduct business with a city must file a questionnaire no later than seven days after the date the person begins contract discussions or negotiations with the city, or submits an application or response to a request for proposals or bids, correspondence, or another writing related to a potential agreement with a city.
Q: With whom should the questionnaire be filed?
A: The questionnaire should be filed with the city's records administrator, which is usually the city secretary.