Texas Licensing And Regulation Announce Partnership To Protect Motor Fuel Consumers From Unsafe Or Low Quality Fuels

Texas Licensing And Regulation Announce Partnership To Protect Motor Fuel Consumers From Unsafe Or Low Quality Fuels

Staff Report

Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton is the lawyer for the State of Texas and is charged by the Texas Constitution to:

  • defend the laws and the Constitution of the State of Texas
  • represent the State in litigation
  • approve public bond issues

To fulfill these responsibilities, the Office of the Attorney General serves as legal counsel to all boards and agencies of state government, issues legal opinions when requested by the Governor, heads of state agencies and other officials and agencies as provided by Texas statutes.

The Texas AG sits as an ex-officio member of state committees and commissions, and defends challenges to state laws and suits against both state agencies and individual employees of the State.

Many Texans look to the Office of the Attorney General for guidance with disputes and legal issues. The agency receives hundreds of letters, phone calls and visits each week about crime victims’ compensation, child support, abuse in nursing homes, possible consumer fraud and other topics. To find out more about the Texas Attorney General, visit the official website at https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/.


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THE TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL

Office of the Attorney General and the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation Announce Partnership to Protect Motor Fuel Consumers from Unsafe or Low Quality Fuels

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) and the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) today announced their offices are partnering to protect consumers from the sale of contaminated or inferior quality motor vehicle fuel. By aggressively leveraging the respective authorities and resources of both agencies, TDLR and OAG are able to provide an interim solution easing the transition of the Motor Fuel Program from the Texas Department of Agriculture to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

“Protecting consumers from unscrupulous trade practices is one of the primary functions of my office,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “Texans rely on their vehicles every day, and they deserve to know the fuel they buy is safe and of the advertised quality. We are proud to partner with TDLR to provide the people of Texas with that peace of mind.”

“The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation looks forward to enhancing our consumer protection powers by combining forces with the Texas Attorney General. Texas consumers can rest easy knowing that we are teaming together to defend them from deceptive trade practices,” said Brian E. Francis, executive director.

Under the terms of the partnership, which is still being formalized, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation will handle the retrieval and testing of fuel samples, while the Office of the Attorney General will investigate and pursue consumer complaints related to fuel quality.

Attorney General Paxton Warns Texans of Price Gouging in Wake of Tropical Storm Imelda

AUSTIN – As Texans battle widespread flooding due to Tropical Storm Imelda, Attorney General Ken Paxton warned residents of southeast Texas that state law prohibits price gouging in the wake of a declared disaster.

“Any person or business selling goods must be aware that they are prohibited by law from engaging in price gouging during or after a disaster,” said Attorney General Paxton. “My office will work aggressively to prevent disaster scams and stands ready to prosecute any price-gouger who takes advantage of rebuilding and recovering Texans.”

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for the counties of Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Orange and San Jacinto. Under state law, once the governor issues a declaration, vendors are prohibited from charging exorbitant prices for necessities such as drinking water, food, batteries, generators, towing, clothing, medical supplies, lodging, repair work and fuel during and after the crisis.

 

Currently, the disaster declaration prompted by the widespread damage from flooding is effective only in the 13 named counties. Price gouging is illegal, and a disaster declaration triggers stiffer penalties under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

 

Texans in affected counties who believe they have encountered price gouging should call the Office of the Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at (800) 621-0508 or file a complaint online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.

Attorney General Ken Paxton Issues Statement on Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing of Purdue Pharma

AUSTIN – Attorney General Paxton released the following statement in response to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of Purdue Pharma and all affiliated U.S. companies in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York:

“For over a year, my office has been aggressively working to hold Purdue Pharma accountable for its deceptive marketing of prescription painkillers like Oxycontin, which has fueled our opioid epidemic.  During that time, our focus has been not only on accountability, but on obtaining the resources we need to get the victims of this epidemic the help they deserve.  To that end, we have been negotiating with Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family to obtain those resources without the delay of lengthy litigation and squandering the resources of the company on unnecessary court costs,” Attorney General Paxton said.

“This bankruptcy filing was not unexpected and is consistent with the framework structure agreed upon by a bipartisan group of 29 Attorneys General and Purdue Pharma to obtain those resources to help the communities impacted by opioid misuse and addiction.  In the structured bankruptcy process agreed to by the Attorneys General, Purdue Pharma will be dismantled, the Sackler family will divest from all overseas pharmaceutical operations, and States will obtain billions of dollars toward addressing the harms caused by the opioid epidemic.”

Purdue Pharma is currently facing several hundred lawsuits related to the marketing and sale of opioids and has been expected to file bankruptcy for some time.  The agreed terms of this bankruptcy are expected to provide far more recovery for the victims of opioid addiction than would be provided absent the agreement.

In addition to Texas, there are 23 other States and 5 U.S. Territories participating in the agreement currently.  The 23 States include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming.  The participating Territories are: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  

Notification of Opinion

Original Request RQ-0284-KP:
Whether a sheriff may expend commissary funds for a salary stipend for a deputy sheriff with duties related to operation of the commissary 

Official Opinion KP-0271:
The sheriff’s “exclusive control” of commissary funds under subsection 351.0415(b)(1) of the Local Government Code and his or her authority under subsection 351.0415(c) to “use commissary proceeds only” for statutory purposes gives the Hunt County sheriff the authority to initially determine whether an expenditure is authorized, subject to administrative review by the Commission on Jail Standards and judicial review under an abuse of discretion standard.

A court would likely conclude that an expenditure of commissary funds under subsection 351.0415(c) is not arbitrary if the amount of the expenditure is reasonable in light of the performance of the authorized activities.

Notification of Opinion

Original Request RQ-0286-KP:
Whether chapter 1704 of the Occupations Code prohibits a jail or detention facility from using a third-party contractor to provide persons in the custody of law enforcement with information on available bail bond services 

Official Opinion KP-0272:
Subsection 1704.304(c) of the Occupations Code prohibits a bail bond surety from soliciting business in a police station, jail, prison, detention facility, or other place of detainment for persons in the custody oflaw enforcement. Based on the description provided, a court would likely conclude that a signboard installed inside a jail facility by a third party providing information about available bail bond services does not amount to a solicitation and is therefore not prohibited under subsection 1704.304( c ).

The First Amendment does not impose any duty on a public official with control over a detention facility to provide a public forum for third-party contractors to install and maintain an informational signboard in the facility.

Notification of Opinion

Original Request RQ-0283-KP:
Authority of the State to obtain an arrest warrant for a defendant previously released on pretrial bond conditions if credible evidence exists he violated those conditions 

Official Opinion KP-0270:
A court likely may, without a hearing, order a defendant’s rearrest to secure the defendant’s presence at a bond-revocation hearing, based on an officer’s sworn affidavit showing probable cause that the defendant has violated bond conditions.

Notification of Opinion

Original Request RQ-0282-KP:
Whether a county treasurer is authorized to use an online auction site to sell unclaimed property pursuant to chapter 76 of the Property Code.

Official Opinion KP-0269:
Chapter 76 of the Property Code requires the county treasurer to sell abandoned property subject to its provisions at a public sale conducted in the county’s jurisdiction. If the county treasurer determines the highest bid from the public sale is insufficient, then the property may be sold through a public or private sale, including an online auction.

Request for Opinion

Request for Opinion RQ-0309-KP: To which account a county must allocate revenue generated from inmate use of a PIN debit system to pay for phone time

Date Received: Friday, September 20, 2019

Requestor:
The Honorable Renee Ann Mueller
Washington County Attorney
100 East Main, Suite 200
Brenham, Texas 77833

Request for Opinion

Original Request RQ-0308-KP: Whether a real estate inspector is authorized to perform inspections of sewer lines by camera

Date Received: Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Requestor:
Mr. Gregory S. Davidson
Chairman, State Policy Committee
State Employee Charitable Campaign
1910 East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78702

Request for Opinion

Original Request RQ-0306-KP: Whether the Texas Pawnshop Act preempts municipal regulation of dealers in secondhand personal property who also transact business as a pawnshop 

Date Received: Thursday, September 12, 2019

Requestor:
The Honorable Rodney W. Anderson
Brazos County Attorney
300 East 26th Street, Suite 1300
Bryan, Texas 77803-5359

Request for Opinion

Original Request RQ-0305-KP: Authority to establish salaries of the staff of a multicounty court at law

Date Received: Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Requestor:
The Honorable Lisa L. Peterson

Nolan County Attorney
100 East 3rd Street, Suite 106A
Sweetwater, Texas 79556

Request for Opinion

Original Request RQ-0307-KP: Whether a real estate inspector is authorized to perform inspections of sewer lines by camera 

Date Received: Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Requestor:
The Honorable Poncho Nevarez

Chair, Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety
Texas House of Representatives
Post Office Box 2910
Austin, Texas 78768-2910

 

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