Sunshine Week may have you asking: What information is publicly available?

From March 12-18, Community Impact Newspaper is celebrating Sunshine Week, by educating readers on what records are available to the public, how to request them and how to use public information. Here are some answers to some common questions about open records requests.

What is public information?


In Texas, information produced by state and local agencies is covered under the Texas Public Information Act, which means the public has a right to view it. The act defines public information as "written, produced, collected, assembled or maintained under a law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business."

What kinds of things are considered open records?


Anything written down by a local or state agency can be open to the public including reports, audits, contracts, manuals, votes, working papers and emails. These documents can contain names, salaries, numbers, budgets and anything else pertinent to the records you are requesting.

How do you make an open records request?


State your request in writing and submit it to whoever is in charge of managing the records for a given entity. You can send your request via email, mail, or hand deliver it in person, but to trigger the law, it must be written down. In Texas, there is no one accepted format for a request, although we have included a sample letter below. The agency or entity should take no longer than 10 days to fulfill the request or should make contact about any potential barriers to providing you with records within that time.

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MOST RECENT

The Oak Ridge North City Council held a regular city council meeting on Oct. 25. (Ally Bolender/Community Impact Newspaper)
Oak Ridge North discusses American Rescue Plan Act funding, potential police department relocation

The city received about $391,626 in the first installment of ARPA funds in September.

New statewide maps will go into effect Jan. 18, 2022. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Gov. Abbott approves new voting maps for state legislature, Congress, school districts for next decade

The maps will go into effect Jan. 18, 2022, after the state legislature passed them during a 30-day special session.

Houston nonprofit Theatre Under the Stars will look to open a new education and arts center as an anchor tenant in the new Ion District in Midtown. (Courtesy Melissa Taylor/Theatre Under the Stars)
Theatre Under the Stars announces eventual opening of new education, arts center at Midtown Ion District

The nonprofit has announced it is seeking to build a new building that will eventually serve as an anchor tenant in Midtown’s new Ion District.

Lone Star College-North Harris received a grant totaling more than $1.5 million for the college’s TRIO Educational Talent Search program, which provides a variety of free support services to help first-generation and low-income students successfully complete secondary school. (Courtesy Lone Star College)
Lone Star College-North Harris receives $1.5M grant to assist low-income students

The grant will operate through Aug. 31, 2026, and will serve a total of 542 students from Spring, Klein and Aldine ISDs. 

The statewide job fair will connect veterans to employers as well as other resource providers. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)
Statewide job fair aims to connect Texas veterans and their families to employers

The job fair is coming to local Texas Workforce Solutions offices, some of which are having early admission for veterans and their families.

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Texas Medical Center coronavirus updates: Average daily hospitalizations continue decline, drop below 100 since early July

For the first time since early July, the average number of daily coronavirus hospitalizations at Texas Medical Center hospitals has dropped below 100.

Tomball community members lined West Main Street in the early morning hours Monday to honor the fallen deputy during the funeral procession. (Courtesy Mike Baxter)
Slain Harris County Precinct 4 Deputy Kareem Atkins honored with procession, funeral

Tomball community members lined West Main Street in the early morning hours Monday to honor the fallen deputy during the funeral procession. 

Teso Life currently has a location in Carrollton near another 99 Ranch Market and other Asian businesses and restaurants. (Matt Payne/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Japanese department store Teso Life coming to Frisco; New Braunfels’ Gruene Hall set as backdrop for Scotty McCreery music video and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 25.

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Katy focuses on public safety, recovery in fiscal year 2021-22 budget

The city will spend 6.2% more than last year on the Katy Fire Department and Katy Police Department, 40% more on funding for drainage and street projects, and 19% more for park improvements.

Pet Supplies Plus will offer a range of pet supplies as well as full grooming services for dogs and cats. (Courtesy Pet Supplies Plus)
Pet Supplies Plus to open in Conroe on Oct. 29

The pet supply chain will offer full grooming services for dogs and cats in its Conroe location.

The first Houston-area Costco Business Center opened in Stafford on Oct. 20. (Holly Galvan/Community Impact Newspaper)
First Houston-area Costco Business Center opens in Stafford

The first Houston-area Costco Business Center opened in Stafford on Oct. 20.

Here are four pumpkin patches to visit in the Tomball and Magnolia area to visit the last week of October. (Courtesy Fotolia)
4 pumpkin patches to visit through Oct. 31 in Tomball, Magnolia

Here are four pumpkin patches to visit in the Tomball and Magnolia area to visit the last week of October.