AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — An ongoing Texas House impeachment hearing of University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall could result in changes in how the Board of Regents handles public information requests.
A House panel is investigating Hall's possible impeachment. Some lawmakers have accused him of misusing the authority of his position to try to force out Austin campus President Bill Powers. Some officials have said Hall's clashes with Powers are politically motivated.
The House Select Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee is investigating several allegations against Hall, including whether he withheld information on his application for appointment, abused open records laws with requests for more than 800,000 pages of documents and released private student or employee information. The committee met twice this week.
The Austin American-Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/18UCidF ) that on Friday, board chairman Paul Foster said he plans to work on potential policy changes.
One possible change would be a process for reviewing information requests that involves determining whether the information sought is necessary and "likely to be beneficial to the discharge of a board member's duties."
"Over the course of events and debates during the last Legislative session and in the weeks since, there has been a focus on best practices for state governing boards," Foster said in a statement before regents met in a closed session Friday afternoon.
"In light of this, I believe today is the right time to begin a new discussion on the best ways this board should operate going forward," Foster said.
Other possible changes include: requiring that media contacts and public statements on UT issues be coordinated in advance through the Office of External Relations and modifying the board's policy to recognize the chairman and chancellor as official spokespeople for the system.
The proposed changes would be considered by regents in November.
The panel charged with hearing testimony in Hall's case will reconvene in November, when Hall is expected to be called as a witness.
Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com