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State of Texas
Texas Attorney General's Office
Opinion Notifications
Monday, July 17, 2017

The Texas Attorney General's Office today issued legal opinions regarding two issues of state law, including whether, under certain circumstances, municipal tree preservation ordinances may violate the Takings Clause of the Texas Constitution.

Regarding whether a municipal tree preservation ordinance may violate the Takings Clause, the Attorney General's Office stated that "if a municipal tree preservation ordinance operates to deny a property owner all economically beneficial or productive use of land, the ordinance will result in a taking that requires just compensation under article I, section 17 of the Texas Constitution."

"Furthermore, a court is likely to find a regulatory taking if a municipal tree preservation ordinance, as applied to a specific property, imposes restrictions that unreasonably interfere with landowners' rights to use and enjoy their property," stated the opinion. "In analyzing whether the interference is unreasonable, the court will consider all relevant circumstances, including: (1) the economic impact of the ordinance; (2) the extent to which the ordinance interferes with distinct investment-backed expectations; and (3) the character of the governmental action." Opinion

The opinion was requested by Texas State Senator Donna Campbell. Request

The Attorney General's Office also issued an opinion regarding whether an independent school district must hold a tax ratification election pursuant to the Tax Code in specific circumstances.

According to the Attorney General's Office, the Tax Code "requires the registered voters of an independent school district to approve an adopted tax rate if the governing body of the district adopts a tax rate that exceeds the district's rollback tax rate."

"The rollback rate calculation, defined in subsection 26.08(n), includes a maximum maintenance and operations tax rate component and a current debt service tax rate component," stated the opinion. "The debt service component of the rollback rate does not reflect the debt service tax rate of the preceding year but of the current year. As a result, the rollback tax rate effectively measures only the maintenance and operations component of the tax rate." Opinion

The opinion was requested by Texas State Representative John Zerwas
regarding the Fort Bend Independent School District. Request

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