Texas Attorney General Opinion: MW-357 Page: 2 of 9
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Mike Driscoll - Page 2
2. Can Harris County expend the proceeds of the
sale of the Harris County Office and Courts
Building Bonds-1979, Series A, to construct
said 5th and 6th stories with the exception
of the shell which will be constructed by the
South Texas College of Law?
3. Will the said building be subject to ad
valorem taxes so long as South Texas College
of Law uses the remainder of the building for
its school purposes?
You have not submitted any particular agreement to us. We
therefore consider only the question of whether the commissioners
court is authorized to enter into the kind of lease agreement you
describe. We imply nothing regarding the validity or desirability of
any agreement, or any element thereof, that may eventually be
Commissioners courts may only exercise those express and implied
powers conferred by the constitution and statutes. Canales v.
Laughlin, 214 S.W.2d 451 (Tex. 1948); Anderson v. Wood, 152 S.W.2d
1084 (Tex. 1941). We must therefore determine whether a
constitutional or statutory basis for this kind of lease agreement
A threshold question, however, is whether, the commissioners
court is prohibited from entering into such an agreement because the
article 1817 requirement that Harris County furnish "suitable rooms"
for the courts of appeals at no cost to the state is
unconstitutional. You suggest that this requirement violates article
VIII, section 1 of the Texas Constitution, which requires that taxes
be equal and uniform, as well as article III, section 56, which
prohibits local or special laws.
Article 1817 does not purport to levy a tax. Nevertheless, you
contend that by requiring courts of appeals to be in certain taxing
units at their expense, the statute causes a higher rate of assessment
in those units and therefore its effect is to create unequal taxation.
However, while the statute may increase the tax burden on certain
taxing units, it does not create unequal taxation within any unit. It
therefore does not violate article VIII, section 1. See Norris v.
City of Waco, 57 T. 635 (1882).
Article III, section 56 provides that:
The Legislature shall not, except as
otherwise provided in this Constitution, pass any
local or special law, authorizing:
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Texas. Attorney-General's Office. Texas Attorney General Opinion: MW-357, text, 1981; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth272202/m1/2/: accessed February 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.