Abstract: Don’t Mess With the Texas Public Information Act: The Threat to Government Transparency Posed by Boeing v. Paxton and How to Fix It

Alexandra BrakVolume 50 Managing Editor

Volume 50, Book 2

The policy of the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) is that every person is entitled “at all times to complete information about the affairs of government,” and that this policy “shall be liberally construed” in favor of transparency. However, despite this legislative vision for open government, the Supreme Court of Texas recently decided a case that throws the concept of open government in Texas into doubt. In Boeing v. Paxton, the court recently held that The Boeing Company could keep information in its lease with the city of San Antonio private from a citizen who demanded to see the lease in an open records request. The result of Boeing has been the inability of Texans to know how much taxpayer money their cities are paying to the private parties they contract with.

In this Comment, I discuss the history of open government in Texas, how courts have interpreted the TPIA prior to Boeing, and I conduct an in-depth analysis of the court’s opinion in Boeing. I argue that the court’s analysis incorrectly interprets the TPIA, allowing private interests to be placed over the public’s right to know. Lastly, I propose a legislative solution to the holding in Boeing, with the end goal of protecting the longstanding policy of open and transparent government in Texas—just as the legislature intended it.