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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The fast-casual Chinese restaurant chain is known for its orange chicken, Beijing beef and chow mein.

Pressed and Peloton opened in Market Street in September. (Ally Bolender/Community Impact Newspaper)
2 new stores now open in Market Street

Pressed Juicery and Peloton opened at Market Street, located at 9595 Six Pines Drive, The Woodlands, in September. 

Matusoff Merfish said the women's commission has four main responsibilities: advising the mayor and city council on policies pertaining to women, generating policy proposals for issues concerning women, alerting the mayor and city council to overlooked problems concerning women, and communicating city initiatives concerning women back to communities. (Courtesy University of Houston-Clear Lake)
Mayor Turner names University of Houston-Clear Lake professor chair of Houston's inaugural women’s commission

The 25 women on the commission will develop and propose policy recommendations, identify gaps in information that need further study and advise city leaders on ways to improve the quality of life for women throughout Houston.

Gordy Bunch, right, chair of The Woodlands Township board of directors, and representatives from the consulting group Raftelis presented information at an incorporation forum in The Woodlands on Sept. 23. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
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As The Woodlands Township moves toward the Nov. 2 date of an incorporation election, local dialogue on the matter continued on several fronts on Sept. 23-24.

The Chinese boba company sells a variety of fruit teas, milk teas, cheese teas, smoothies and slushies. (Screenshot via Happy Lemon)
Happy Lemon coming soon to Katy Asian Town

The tea shop sells several specialty drinks, including salted cheese tea.

Here are 14 events happening soon in the Katy area featuring food trucks, concerts, outdoor events and more. (Courtesy Katy Rice Festival)
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Here are 14 events happening soon in the Katy area featuring food trucks, concerts, outdoor events and more.

Chicking Out serves five different marinated grilled chicken options as well as gorditas, chile rellenos, and bean and cheese burritos. (Courtesy Chicking Out)
Chicken restaurant Chicking Out now open on Gosling Road

Chicking Out serves five different marinated grilled chicken options as well as gorditas, chile rellenos, and bean and cheese burritos.

Missouri City City Council unanimously adopted its fiscal year 2021-22 budget and a tax rate that supports that budget during its Sept. 20 meeting.  (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Missouri City City Council adopts $0.02 lower tax rate, $157.5M budget for FY 2021-22

Despite adopting a lower tax rate, Missouri City will raise more money in property taxes in fiscal year 2021-22 than in the previous year.

The first cluster of tenants is confirmed for Marcel Boulevard, a commercial development underway at I-45 South and Grand Central Parkway. (Courtesy Kaplan Public Relations)
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The first cluster of tenants is confirmed for Marcel Boulevard, a commercial development underway at I-45 South and Grand Central Parkway.

METRONext is the agency’s $3.5 billion bond approved by voters in November 2019, which aims to ease traffic congestion, add expansion to the METRO, and make accessibility and safety upgrades.
(Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
METRO Board approves $1.3 billion budget, discusses METRONext projects

The METRO board of directors met Sept. 21 to give an overview of the drafted budget as well as to receive public comments. It was unanimously approved at the Sept. 23 board meeting.

Left to right: The Senator IPA, Speak Sam Rayburn Pecan Porter and Smoke Show Roasted Jalapeno Blonde are among the most popular brews at Senate Avenue Brewing Co. (Emily Jaroszewski/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Andrew and Michelle Mitcham opened Senate Avenue Brewing Co. last October in Jersey Village.

Want to know more about new businesses coming to the area? Below you can find details on the five latest commercial permits filed in Katy.
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